Let me start by admitting that I do a lot of my shopping from clearance racks and department store outlets. Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Nordstrom – bring it on.
The reason shopping clearance works quite well for me is that I am able to find natural fibers and made in USA or Europe clothes without breaking the bank. Plus, I am not the one to jump on the latest trends, so whatever I like at the store – last or current season – is what I buy.
And yes, this is a legitimate question of mine, one which I’d really like your input.
Is it environmentally friendly to shop clearance racks?
First, here’s what all major fashion retailers do with unsold clothes:
- They try to sell them at the clearance rack.
- They donate them to organizations and hope they will be sold or given away.
- They try to sell them thru programs that distribute merchandise in other countries. (Often talking about poorer countries that are already overflowing with western unwanted goods.)
- They throw them away in a dumpster. (After making the clothes unusable by staining, cutting or similar so no one can have that fancy shirt for free.)
- They shred them and recycle the fabric into, for example, rugs.
- They burn them.
According to statistics from the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt and polyester production for textiles releases something like 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases yearly, all while 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in American landfills every year. Us consumers are responsible for throwing away plenty of clothes after we’ve worn them a few times, and we need to buy better, yes, but it is without a doubt that corporations are contributing huge amounts of waste to that number. (Do we need a #FashionRevolution? YES!)
I just bought the most amazing shirt at the Bloomingdale’s outlet. It’s a Helmut Lang made in Portugal, checkered, wool, button down shirt with some interesting details, like a frayed hem and a real pocket. I paid 88 dollars for this shirt, originally listed at $395.
So I am thinking, from an environmentalist’s stand point, that had I not bought this shirt – at the 78% discounted price – it would have ended up in a dumpster or burned. What are the chances that another size small woman, walking around the outlet, would want the same shirt, since it hadn’t already sold?
I don’t have the answer to this question. Which, of course, is why I am asking and rambling.
I love shopping clearance, like I said, and I’d like to think that it is better. If I were to buy the latest new shirt at H&M and they end up selling out real quick, wouldn’t they just order a similar batch as soon as possible? The rack doesn’t have that option.
On the other hand, outlets and clearances encourage impulse shopping, which leads to over consumption of goods – something I’m very much against.
Let me know what you think, please!
PS. My favorite way to buy new clothes is to do it from shops that produce upon order. The downside to that is that they’re available online only and I do love to actually browse and try on clothes now and then :)