America’s secondhand evolution

Capitalism is man’s creation, designed so that corporations only grow larger and more powerful over time. Created in 16th century Europe, it has peaked worldwide as a broken system.

Knowing there are only limited resources left for Earth to offer up, corporations seem even more determined to maintain their ever-increasing profits, with no thought toward the destruction left behind from their plunder. This is pure insanity.

Precious life-sustaining resources are now in danger of being lost forever. Many understand that this insatiable corporate behavior must be reduced without delay, or Earth’s inhabitants will not survive, including the human species. Yet there is no movement to change their frantic pace.

We must have clean air, clean water and unpoisoned food to stay alive. These are absolute requirements of life. Yet a corporation like Nestlé claims that clean water cannot be our right because they want to sell it. This coldness is alarming. Many are boycotting Nestlé products.

One of our biggest polluters is the clothing industry. We need to buy clothing. However, we have the power to do so on our own terms, not on those of the clothing industry. Americans are much more environmentally and socially conscious than we have ever been.

The clothing industry produces a surprising amount of water and landfill waste and has a giant carbon footprint due to the process of turning raw materials into the finished fashion. What will our buying secondhand clothing do to their polluting practices?

Americans are perfectly capable of changing buying habits. Secondhand clothing sales are putting a large pleat in this destructive industry. Clothing resales purportedly reached $24 billion last year and is expected to double in the next five years.

Views on secondhand shopping have changed significantly since the 2008 recession. Many Kitsap residents haven’t been to the Silverdale Mall much since then, which is why there are vacant stores. Many others can’t afford to shop there.

To both save money and to save the environment, we can purchase secondhand clothing at brick-and-mortar stores like Kingston’s Sharenet thrift store, Poulsbo’s Second Season (benefiting Fishline), Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill where items are donated by the public. Remember that some of the best deals can be found at estate, yard or rummage sales.

There are consignment stores, Kingston’s very own Lucky Star, doing a successful resale service for the community. They pay the original owners as their items sell. There’s now a larger Lucky Star in Silverdale.

Resale websites where people can both buy and resell include eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Thredup, Craigslist, Facebook Market, and Nextdoor Marketplaces. All are user-friendly and their prices are competitive.

There has been news recently about Macy’s and J.C. Penney stores adding departments for selling secondhand clothing from Thredup. Retail stores are feeling the effect of the growing resale industry and are wanting some of the profit.

Is it acceptable to buy secondhand or vintage clothing as gifts? If it means being responsible and helping save our environment, absolutely.

Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist and may be reached at marylin.olds@gmail.com.

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