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After four years living in San Francisco, I'm really feeling the urge to update my wardrobe.

I've never been much of a fashionista, but that's partly because of the damage I assumed caused to the environment.

What are some websites or stores that offer either modern second hand clothes OR companies that take old clothing and turnit into something new?

How sustainable is recycled fashion? You hear that recycled aluminum actually has significant embodied process energy. Is process energy signficant for recycling clothes?

Also, any indication if how much water and land you are saving by purchasing recycled clothes (ie gains from re-using the textile materials)?

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Benefits of Buying Used Clothes

This article in ecotextiles claims 100-340 MJ energy input per kg of weaved cloth (flax and cotton on the lowest on the list, nylon the highest). Additionally the textile industry is the number one industrial polluter of fresh water and releases up to 2000 different chemicals into the environment (if someone knows more about these, please elaborate).

Buying used clothes obviates these manufacturing outputs. Buying clothes with recycled fabric will obviate much of this as well, though there will be associated energy with actually recycling the fabric.

online vs traditional retail

There may be beneftis to purchasing your clothing online as well. A life cycle inventory analysis conducted at Carnegie Mellon found that e-commerce options were less energy intensive 80% of the time (30% less energy on average). However, in their analysis, 65% of traditional retail primary energy was composed of personal transportation to the store, so if that isn't an issue in your shopping, then this analysis might not be that meaningful. Last mile delivery and packaging composed 32% and 22% of e-commerce energy usage, respectively.

where can i buy used fashion?

Of course there are your local thrift stores, but below is intended to be wiki list of places and websites with high availability of recycled materials or used clothing:

  • etsy.com has both retail and personal vendors selling used items, clothing as well as craft items.
  • ebay is rather obvious, but it allows you to filter your searches based on their condition, with an option for pre-owned.
  • Threadflip is dedicated to re-purposed clothing for women.

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