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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

UC Davis students advocate for buying clothing second-hand 

According to students, thrifting is a more sustainable and affordable alternative to fast fashion 

By REBEKA ZELJKO — features@theaggie.org 


Chloe Harmon, a second-year global disease biology major, is one of many who believes buying second-hand is economically and environmentally important. As an organizer for Aggie Trading Post, a student-run free clothing exchange, Harmon contributes to the effort to make second-hand, sustainable clothing more easily available in the Davis community.

“There are many things we can do as consumers: care, repair and rewear,” Harmon said. “It’s important to upcycle, buy from second-hand retailers and to take care of the clothing you already own to make it last, and buy only what you really need.”

But Harmon is not the only one working to make an impact. In recent years, thrifting, online clothing resale apps and vintage stores have become increasingly popular. The global second-hand apparel market is expected to grow three times faster than the overall global apparel market, according to the ThredUp resale report.

“Buying second-hand forces you to develop a personal style,” Harmon said. “It’s all

about using what you have and cultivating your own closet […] you don’t really have the option to do that with fast fashion where the trends are chosen for you.”

The appeal of buying second-hand and creating a unique style is prevalent in Davis. Olivia Hurley, a third-year design major, focuses on students’ expression and second-hand fashion through the popular Instagram profile, @ucdfits

What began as a hand-me-down tradition with her mom turned into a good eye for style and thrifting, a forte Hurley uses to co-run the account. 

“A lot of it started with my mom,” Hurley said. “Most of the time I’m wearing a piece from my mom […] she saved a lot of her clothes from when she was younger and she has always been a second-hand shopper.”

Hurley helps run this account to capture the unique and often thrifted pieces students wear on campus. 

“I would always see people wearing their cool outfits and unique pieces so me and my friends thought, let’s just start hyping them up,” Hurley said. 

The account is one of many on social media that advocates for shopping second-hand and turning towards sustainable alternatives in fashion. Odinaka Okegbe, a fourth-year biological sciences major, said social media originally convinced him to begin thrifting and buying pre-owned clothing.

“[Thrifting] was really getting popular to the point where I wasn’t just seeing people thrift on YouTube or Instagram, but also some of my close friends were doing it as well,” Okegbe said. “So I decided to try it, and I’ve been doing so ever since.” 

Beyond aesthetics, there is an urgent environmental reason to buy second-hand. Just 15% of the world’s discarded clothing gets donated or recycled, while 85% of it goes to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That is 21 billion pounds of textile waste going to landfills every year. The EPA also estimates that the United States generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year, which is about 82 pounds of textiles per US resident.

The overproduction, waste and overconsumption within the fast fashion industry are detrimental to the environment, according to Kenny Gagni, the owner of Treehouse Vintage in Davis. 

“Sustainability is important to us at Treehouse Vintage,” Gagni said in an Instagram Direct Message. “We believe in our anti-fast fashion mantra because fast fashion causes excess in landfills, destructive carbon emissions, as well as questions in ethics [at] factories.”

 Second-hand shopping offers a solution and is oftentimes even more affordable than buying from fast fashion retailers, according to Maryah Gilbert, a third-year political science major.

“I think clothing is a really easy way for people to consciously do better at being less wasteful and promoting sustainable habits,” Gilbert said. “I just recently got a dress from the art market, and everyone there is a student or a community member which is great to keep things circulating in the community. It’s a really nice thing.”

In addition to its environmental benefits, Harmon believes second-hand clothing is better quality than fast fashion clothing. 

“Clothing items from Shein are so poorly made,” Harmon said. “You’re going to throw it out immediately. That’s why I like vintage clothing; I can imagine these clothing items pretty much lasting me my whole life. It’s an investment to buy second-hand.”

Similarly, Okegbe also refrains from buying fast fashion because of its lack of longevity. 

“I’m not a fan of fast fashion whatsoever,” Okegbe said. “I never liked the idea of buying a clothing piece that wasn’t going to last me at least two years. It’s just wasteful and honestly pointless,” Okegbe said. 

On the other hand, thrift stores can be inconvenient for people to buy all their clothes from. Okegbe said that not everyone has the time to sift through racks of clothing, and not everyone is guaranteed to find the exact size or item they are looking for. 

“While I do endorse thrifting and stuff akin to it, it has its downsides,” Okegbe said. “For people like me with larger builds, it’s difficult to find second-hand clothes that actually fit you, especially bottoms.” 

Additionally, Gilbert said buying second-hand, especially from curated vintage stores or online resellers, is not an affordable option for some people. 

“It’s definitely important to me that cheap and sustainable clothing is accessible to me and something that really bothers me is when [online resellers] buy and resell thrifted clothing for a billion dollars,” Gilbert said. “It takes away from the people who need it.”

For these reasons, many people turn to fast fashion when purchasing their clothes. However, many resources are available throughout Davis that accommodate these difficulties, like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) thrift store, Treehouse Vintage, Aggie Reuse and Aggie Trading Post. 

According to Harmon, Aggie Trading Post has a “three for free” policy, which means that you can donate one item and take three home for free in return.

These and many other members of the Davis community think it’s important to shop consciously when you can. Not only can you develop a unique, personal style, but you can do your part in reducing the textile waste that is growing each year.


Written by: Rebeka Zeljko — features@theaggie.org