Fashion: Sustainably.

Hello! Paige here to talk about one of my biggest guilty pleasures – fashion.

As fashion designers continue to create stunning creations year round, I can’t help but get sucked into following their trends. I like to predict how beautiful runway designs will be soon interpreted into more affordable ready-to-wear collections, trickling down to department stores and shopping malls around the world.

I think about those same ready-to-wear items in my closet, even though it’s already OVERFLOWING with last year’s already outdated trends that I wore maybe two or three times. Admittedly, I’m an addict for new clothing trends. As fashion industry feeds new trends to the public, I’m the first one to eat it up. I usually wait for mega sales or clearances, never spend more than $20 on a top, and never purchase things full price. So I can’t be THAT bad, right?

Not quite. While I do shop with a budget in mind, the cost of my clothing addiction is actually way steeper than I could have imagined.

According to the EPA, 13 trillion tons of textile waste are thrown into landfills every year. They estimate that this waste creates approximately the same environmental toll as the carbon dioxide emissions 7.3 million cars.  

On top of the waste that the physical garments produce, you also have to consider all of the resources it took to make those garments. Water, labor, transportation, fibers (the water and resources it took to make those fibers), dyes… etc. are all part of the equation.

So even if I do buy more tops than I really need, I can just donate to a second hand store, right? Yes, and that’s an awesome option. However, just because clothing is donated doesn’t mean it can actually be sold. The EPA cites that approximately only 10% of items donated to second hand or thrift stores are actually resold.

So, what can I do to prevent all of this pollution?

1. The first and most straightforward option is to simply stop consuming so much. Instead of constantly looking to new trends I can add my own style to classic timeless pieces. It’s recognizing that hey, I already have 5 white t-shirts, I definitely don’t need a 6th one. Or that (*gasp*) it’s ok to wear the same pants twice in one week!

2. The second option is to shop second hand.

Trends repeat themselves. Right now you’ll notice that tons of styles in stores are reflective of styles that were popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s (mom jeans anyone?). LUCKY FOR US, those are the exact styles you’ll find in thrift stores for $4 per garment.

Additionally, many second hand stores are nonprofit and proceeds go to charities. You’re saving money, preventing clothing from being thrown in a landfill, saving the resources it would have taken to produce a new garment AND likely supporting a good cause. I couldn’t think of anything more sustainable than that.

Here are a few of my favorite second hand stores in Ames:

  1. If you’re not into vintage fashion, try a sustainable clothing label! There’s plenty of really cool brands that use sustainable materials and manufacture their garments using ethical labor standards. A few of my favorites include: Girlfriend Collective, Awamaki, Everlane and more!        (The holidays are coming up… wink, wink).

Here are some of my favorite vintage looks. I purchased each of these items for less than $10 from a local thrift store!


Use colorful scarves to breathe new life into old pieces. Guess leather bucket bag- $10, Scarf- free, taken from my grandmother’s closet 😉

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I love my denim jacket because I purchased it already worn in, so it has some character. Denim jacket- $10, Pink denim skirt- $7


I almost never wear jeans that I purchased new. There’s just something I l love about a good vintage fit! Each pair of jeans in this photo cost me less than $7 from local thrift stores.


Plaid is in this season, so I was ecstatic when I found these old plaid trousers for $3.50. I paired them with a belt my grandma (stylish grandma, that is) and I think they make the perfect combo.


In the spring and summer months, check second hand stores for long denim skirts! You can easily trim them to the length you desire, throw them in the dryer and you’ll have a cute new frayed denim skirt! I purchase these three for less than $5 each.


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