How thrifting helps the Environment



“Blue Marble 2000.”

Textile dye polluting a river in Tehuacan, Mexico

Did you know that 11,800 gallons of freshwater are used to make one single pair of blue jeans? In 2015, textile production used 2% of all freshwater withdrawal or 79 billion cubic meters and it has been on a steady rise. The freshwater usage as of 2019 is 93 billion cubic meters, which is 4% of the withdrawal. There is also an issue with the dyes used to color the textiles are most likely going to end up as run-off into groundwater or nearby water sources. Additionally, the amount of water used in washing machines is about 20 billion cubic meters, and there is another issue with microplastics coming off the clothes in the wash and ending up in the ocean, adding to the already prevalent pollution. 

One of the cats at Nostalgia Vintage Shop

Although there are many issues, there are a few solutions to these problems. Clothing is easy to recycle and reuse. Thrift shops and second-hand stores are the easiest way to get the most out of your clothing. Some people create accounts on social media and there are even apps you can use so it’s easier to buy/sell specific items second hand. The reason it’s environmentally friendly to buy used clothes is that they have already been made and are being cycled, instead of ending up in a landfill. People who thrift are supporting circular fashion, which is when you buy clothes sustainably and intend to use the clothes until they are no longer able to be used. Circular fashion also means that at the end of the clothes life you use the fabric for something else instead of throwing it away. It is also really fun to dig through clothes and find cool pieces, like vintage clothes or something you can bring back in style, you can also find really cool pieces of furniture.

The only downside is that some families who can only afford secondhand clothing, do not have as many options since people who have a higher income are shopping at thrift stores. Since the popularity of thrifting has risen, more second-hand shops are raising their prices which makes it even harder for people who can only afford second-hand clothes. The best option to avoid this is to shop at local or online stores that source their clothes and fabric ethically and sustainably. It may be more expensive but it is the best choice to ensure that families with a low income can continue buying clothes at a price they can afford. 


Where to buy:

  • In/around Knoxville:

Nostalgia (vintage)

Four Seasons (vintage)

NTY Clothing Exchange ($ second hand)

Plant Exchange ($$ second hand)

  • Instagram: (bidding)

@littlethriftyy (bidding)

  • Apps:

Depop (buy & sell)

Poshmark (buy & sell)

eBay (buy & sell)

Mercari (buy & sell)

  • Online:


Patagonia’s Sustainable Apparel Coalition


People Tree:

People Tree


Wear Pact 



Statistical Sources:

Industrial Water Usage To Produce These Items

Water & Clothing