Living Planet Community tip of the week: Purchase second-hand items

How do the clothes I wear impact how much water I use?
It may not be an obvious use of water, but those clothes you have on soaked up quite a bit of H20 while being produced. Take cotton for instance. The average water requirement to produce 1 kg of cotton is 11 thousand litres – this translates to a whopping 2,900 litres to produce a plain cotton shirt! When you apply that type of ‘water’ thinking to your entire wardrobe, it’s easy to see how you can achieve big reductions in your water footprint by buying clothes second hand.
In addition to the water waste that comes with new clothes, there are a number of other environmental impacts that go hand-in-hand:
When you buy a new shirt, chances are the fabric, buttons, and stitching were put together thousands of miles away from the store where you bought it. With mass produced clothing going in and out of style faster than a bike racing downhill, the emissions that result from shipping clothing and textiles around the world are on the rise. By trading clothes with friends or buying vintage items, you are reducing the amount of energy used to keep yourself covered and opting for a more individual look at the same time. By donating your pre-loved items to a charity shop instead of throwing them out, you are reducing the burden on your local landfill as well.


Buying 2nd hand: Try the lifestyle on for size
Instead of heading to a chain store, find a vintage or thrift store in your community. You’ll be surprised at how many quality items you can find, and how little you’ll have to spend. And when you are no longer in love with your once prized sweater, give back by donating your pre-loved items to a charity shop like the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
If you are looking to freshen up your wardrobe, but you don’t want to spend a dime, invite your friends over for a clothing swap. If everyone brings a bag of clothes, you’ll have a great time trading items. When the fun is over, the unclaimed clothing can be dropped off at a charity shop.
Want to give it a shot but not quite sure how to go about doing it? Check out a blog post from WWF staffer Kristy Woudstra who challenged herself to buy nothing new for the entire year:
Lessons from a Year of Buying Nothing New: 5 tips on buying used clothes
So far, 1630 people have committed to taking this action. Have you? Let us know!