The clothing industry accounts for 10% of global pollution and a fifth of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year (Bloomberg). Want to satisfy your love of fashion, without sacrificing your sustainable passion? Start by discovering the best apps for buying second-hand clothes!
Buying pre-owned, vintage and used items – also known as thrifting – saves the planet and your purse strings. And apps like Vinted and Depop mean you can be clothes-minded without being close-minded about the environment.
Fashion and the planet: the cold, hard facts
- • The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter, behind only fossil fuels (Free Flow Active).
- • £140 million worth of clothing is sent to UK landfills each year (Wrap).
- • One in three young British women consider an item of clothing to be old after just one or two wears (State of Fashion). Crazy, right? We bet your cupboards have cans of soup way older than that, and you’d have no trouble eating them.
- • In the UK alone, 336,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes gets binned every year (Recycle Now).
- • A truckload of textiles is dumped in landfill or incinerated every second (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). That’s three truckloads by the time you finished writing that first sentence. Seven truckloads after you finished that sentence. Sorry, this can go on forever, we’ll move on…
- • The average item of clothing is worn seven times before it’s thrown out (Telegraph). So much for Forever 21…
- • 60% of materials used in the fashion industry are made from plastic (UNEP).
- • 100 billion items of clothing are made each year (Clean Clothes). Three in five end up in landfill within 12 months.
- • The clothing industry creates more emissions than all the world’s flights combined.
- • A third of the microplastics in the ocean are due to the fashion industry (Plastic Soup Foundation).
- • Polyester – the material used to make shirts, jackets, pants and more – can take up to 200 years to decompose (University of Wollongong). Just think, in a couple of century’s time, your knickers may be discovered by robots driving flying cars!
Why is thrifting better than buying new?
When it comes to shopping habits and protecting the planet, first’s the worst and second’s the best. Here are the advantages of buying second-hand goods…
1) It reduces waste
Prolonging the life of existing clothes, furniture and electronics divert them away from the waste cycle, where they will gradually break down into harmful microplastics and greenhouse gases.
So, you can finally buy those Dutch shoes you always wanted, without clogging up landfill!
2) It preserves resources
If the devil wears Prada, the saints wear clothes from thrift stores and second-hand marketplaces. Why? Because the more pre-owned items you buy, the less the world needs to make.
Swapping TK Maxx for minimum waste saves any resources and energy required to make new versions of perfectly usable products.
3) You can find hidden gems and treasures
There’s nothing worse than spotting a shopping centre mannequin in the same outfit as you. Apart from maybe walking into IKEA to see an exact replica of your living room.
Thrift shopping helps you find unique clothing that nobody else will be wearing at your next shindig.
4) It’s fun!
You never know what you might find in second-hand stores and marketplaces. People go Dolce and Gabbananas for one-of-a-kind, rare clothing treasures, and searching for them is much funner than endlessly scrolling through hundreds of webpages.
5) It’s cheaper
From low-cost Lacostes to (slightly more) affordable Tom Fords, secondhand shopping helps you bag high-quality products from high-quality brands, at a lower price.
Car boot sales, thrift shops and second-hand clothing apps uncover a whole new world of shopping. You can even bargain for a better price on apps like Vinted!
6) It supports your local economy
Local antique stores and charity shops help form the backbone of your local community. Supporting them and buying from your neighbours ensures your money remains local, rather than going towards large-scale, heavy-polluting fashion brands.
7) It reduces emissions
Look at the labels on the clothes you’re wearing now. Chances are, they’re made overseas.
Big brand retailers ship millions of items of clothing across the world, resulting in increased greenhouse gases from cargo ships and planes. Thrifting, however, reduces the environmental and financial costs of global delivery.
8) It supports good causes
Buying from charity shops like Oxfam, Salvation Army and Barnardo’s supports both your wardrobe and charitable causes. Everyone’s a winner!
9) Old is gold
Ever heard your grandpa complain “they don’t make them like they used to”? He may be onto something.
People buy a lot more than they used to and are less inclined to repair and upcycle clothes. This has caused the rise of “fast fashion”, with brands swapping high-quality materials and measured craftsmanship with cheap synthetics and cost-cutting production methods. This means many modern items are less durable, and therefore don’t last as long as the predecessors you’ll find in secondhand shops.
Manufacturers have even been accused of giving products “deliberately short lifespans, to make you shell out to replace them.” Often associated with tech and fast fashion, this is known as “planned obsolescence”.
So, long story short, maybe being old-fashioned isn’t so bad after all, ay gramps?
10) You can get creative
Buying secondhand items is an amazing way to express yourself and develop your own style.
Thanks to the huge range of vintage shops and online marketplaces, you can now tailor thrift shopping (not to be confused with Taylor Swift shopping) to your taste and fashion preferences.
So next time someone marvels at your fancy new hat or swanky new shoes, they won’t be able to head to their nearest store to steal your style!
Resale over retail
More and more eco and money-conscious consumers are making the switch to secondhand shopping, with the resale industry expected to grow 11 times faster than the clothing retail industry by 2025.
Clothing is the most popular thing people buy secondhand in the UK, with over a quarter of consumers buying secondhand attire in 2022. This is closely followed by shoes, bags and accessories.
The best used clothing apps
You can’t spell apparel without app. And there are lots out there that keep your purse strings as tight as a teenager’s jeans, and your waste as low as… well, a teenager’s jeans.
Thanks to used clothing apps like Depop and Vinted, you no longer have to furrow in vintage bins and furiously bid on eBay until the early hours to grab second-hand clothing and shoes with a low carbon footprint.
Want to be a trendsetter and spend better? Here are some of the best apps for buying second-hand clothes…
When buying and selling second-hand clothes, it’s worth considering the age demographic of Depop’s userbase. If you’re looking for (or selling) items that appeal to those aged 26 and under, this is the place to be. If not, you may want to try another used clothing app.
The app allows you to buy and sell all sorts, from designer bags, hats and shoes right on through to shirts, dresses, jeans… Even books, video games and homeware!
Unlike eBay, there are no auctions on Vinted. You buy items and bundles at set prices or negotiate with sellers via offers (something we’d strongly recommend if you’re looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush during your lunch break).
Vinted’s mission is to “make second-hand your first choice”. And it’s doing a pretty good job so far, with over 75 million people using the app worldwide (and over eight million using it in the UK).
eBay is brimming with vintage stores and average Joes looking to sell their secondhand clothes. And as the original online home of used goods, it has over 135 million users worldwide! Its app is also one of the most popular shopping apps among all Android and iPhone users.
If you’re want plenty of choice, this is the place to look, as there are 1.7 BILLION live listings across eBay’s app and website.
Clothing is the second top category on eBay (behind electronics), accounting for 16% of all sales.
Facebook is now so much more than Messenger and cheesy minion memes from your great auntie. Marketplace launched in 2016, and is used by over a billion people. FYI, that’s over 10% of the entire planet’s population!
Want to buy second-hand clothes from your local area? Facebook Marketplace is well worth checking out, as you can filter by category and distance from your location.
Low miles, low waste, low cost!
Gumtree’s mission is to “help make good finds happen”, whether it’s saving you money on secondhand items or “finding a buyer who will enjoy something as much as you did.”
The site and app are all about giving things new purpose. And just like Facebook Marketplace, they’ll help you find bargain second-hand clothes for sale in your local area.
Gumtree has over two million live listings per month, reaching almost a fifth of the adult population in the UK.
Every month, it helps “over 14 million people in the UK to share more, waste less and find the thing that they need most.”
ASOS Marketplace is a treasure trove for thrifty vintage lovers. Only, unlike thrift apps like Vinted, you can return items for a full refund within 14 days of receiving them.
Founded in 2010, ASOS Marketplace describes itself as “the leading online platform for independent brands and vintage boutiques”, and now boasts over 800 boutiques across the globe.
ASOS Marketplace pretty much does what it says on the tin, providing a more unique and artisanal version of ASOS, where small brands meet vintage and second-hand items from larger high-street names.
How can I sell my old clothes online?
Unlike mullets and tie dye, protecting the planet never goes out of fashion.
Just because it’s been a while since you’ve dusted off those super skinny jeans from your teenage rebellion days, doesn’t mean someone else won’t like to wear them.
If you’re looking to reduce the size of your wardrobe, as well as your carbon footprint, we recommend selling your clothes online.
What is the best app for selling used clothing?
Thanks to modern apps like Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Vinted, it really couldn’t be easier to sell used clothing.
If you’re looking to rapidly refresh your wardrobe, you can’t go too wrong with Vinted. This is Europe’s most-popular app for second-hand clothes, so if you can’t find a place for your unwanted items here, you’ll most likely struggle with other apps, too.
Reasons to sell on Vinted?
- • Buyers pay for their own postage, thanks to Vinted’s partnerships with various couriers.
- • It’s free to sell items on here, with the company making its money by charging buyers a small fee per purchase.
- • Listing an item takes a matter of minutes. All you need to do (after creating your account) is provide a quick description and a few photos and a price. Once it’s uploaded, simply wait for interested buyers to reach out, purchase or make an offer.
Check out Money Saving Expert’s guide for useful tips for selling on Vinted.
What are the best sites to sell items locally?
If you want to sell your unwanted goods but don’t fancy dealing with packaging and posting, don’t worry, there are other ways.
How to sell or give away old clothes offline
Bored of back-to-back messaging and notifications on second-hand clothing apps? Struggling to sell those 1980s hammer pants on Depop? Wi-fi on the blink? Fear not – you can also sell and give away old clothes offline using the following methods:
- • Give them to a charity shop: Donate your clothes to raise funds for a good cause.
- • Sell them at a car boot sale: Give waste the boot by making money off your old clothes, rather than binning them.
- • Organise a garage sale: Set a date and spread the word by telling your neighbours, publishing a post on your local Facebook group and putting up signs nearby.
- • Look out for clothes donation bags: Charities will sometimes put these through your letterbox before organising collections from your driveway the following week.
- • Take them to a charitable clothes bank: You can search online for your nearest Salvation army clothing bank.
Should you wash clothes before giving them to charity?
Yes. Not washing your donated clothes would put a huge strain on charity shops. Imagine if they had to wash every single item that was donated – it would take forever and would cost a fortune in energy and utility bills!
Some charity shops will wash items before they get tagged and put on display. But not all of them have the resources to do so.
After washing your unwanted clothes, you can also ease the strain on charity shop volunteers by categorising items in separate bags. This is particularly useful when donating a wide range of clothes.
Does Oxfam collect from home?
According to the Oxfam website, most Oxfam shops will not collect donations. But some will for the right item(s). If you’re struggling to make it into your local store, it’s worth giving them a call and asking.
Alternatively, you could donate your clothes by post via their free service.
What can I do with clothes not suitable for selling or charity?
Clothing that’s not worthy of being sold or donated to charity can still be given another life, outside the dark depths of landfill.
Here are a few things you can do in this scenario:
- • Take them to a sewing or textiles shop: Some may accept your old clothes and upcycle them into things like duvets, curtains and blankets.
- • Take them to recyclable clothing banks: These big bin-like containers can often be found in supermarket car parks. You can find your nearest one using Recycle Now’s online map.
- • Give them to Oxfam: Oxfam have been recycling and reusing textiles from clothes since 1974. Request a free mail bag or drop your secondhand clothes into your nearest store to get started.
- • Get creative: If an item of clothing doesn’t fit or suit you anymore, why not turn it into something else? That old wellington boot is a future plant pot in the making!
How else can I ensure an eco-friendly wardrobe?
Some say fashion is all about making statements. So, what do the clothes in your wardrobe say about you?
Ask yourself, what impact are my buying habits having on the planet? Do I need this hoodie? Should I really buy this eighteenth pair of chinos? Will I ever be in a situation that exclusively requires chinos, where my other seventeen pairs are down for the count?
If you don’t fancy yourself as a Macklemore-esque thrift shopper, but want to wear casual tees with no casualties to the planet, you can still be an eco-friendly fashionista by…
- • Repairing ripped, torn or stained clothes yourself.
- • Upcycling old furniture and clothing.
- • Shopping with sustainable clothing brands like Patagonia.
- • Swapping and borrowing clothes with your friends and family.
While you’re here, why not check out our guide on the best apps for reducing food waste?
What else can I do to reduce my environmental impact?
Reducing your carbon footprint can be done with many small steps. Here’s how you can fight waste and protect the planet:
- • Join our plastic free milkround and get milk, fruit juice and more in returnable glass bottles.
- • Swap single-use plastic for fruit and veg and baked goods in recyclable, home-compostable packaging.
- • Start composting
- • Shop little and often for groceries, rather than buying in bulk. This can be done on our eco milkround, thanks to repeat weekly ordering and next day delivery if you order before 8pm!