By Nanci Zurek
Green Right Now
Holidays in the winter mean over-crowded malls and expensive wish lists that are hard to fulfill when trying to keep a green holiday season. One way to keep Christmas green is to try out some recycled shopping.
Stores such as Buffalo Exchange pride themselves on offering high quality, designer merchandise for less money. Less money for high quality is always appealing, but one overlooked positive aspect to recycled shopping is that it is green. Buying recycled clothes eliminates the process of producing new clothes.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the gases and chemicals emitted from creating a simple t-shirt include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter and acid gases. The acid gases include substances such as hydrogen chloride.
Buying a shirt that has already been made eliminates the need to put those chemicals into the environment.
The fun thing about resale shopping is that you’re often surprised by the amazing finds. At a recent trip to Buffalo Exchange in Austin, Texas, I found a tunic that was originally from Urban Outfitters. The tunic is made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers by Peaches N Cream, and most of the products similar to it are sold are sold at retail for anywhere from $36.00 to $60.00. This tunic was marked at $25.00.
A way to save a lot of money at places like Buffalo Exchange is to bring in your own clothes for exchange. The store does not always take everything that is brought in, but they are good about taking high-quality and high-style items. I brought in two pairs of jeans, a plaid shirt from Abercrombie, a designer knock-off purse, and an old blazer of my grandmother's. The store took both pairs of jeans, and priced them at $15 each, and the blazer, which they priced at $7. The store policy at Buffalo Exchange is you can either take 30% of what you turned in as cash, or 50% as store credit. I chose store credit, which came out to $18.50 towards my purchase. After adding it all up, the Peaches & Cream tunic, which could have originally cost $50.00, cost me $8.00.
Buffalo Exchange aims to be green. "Buffalo Exchange is a sustainable business that works to protect the environment by reusing and recycling clothing. Because we deal in local resale, emissions from production or distribution are eliminated," says Michelle Livingston, marketing director at Buffalo Ex
change. Livingston also states that Buffalo Exchange helps the environment by limiting the amount of clothes created.
She cites the EPA as estimating that 12.7 million tons of textiles were generated in 2009, or 5.2% of total U.S. municipal solid waste.
“Nearly half of the 2.5 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste prevented from entering the solid waste stream is recycled as secondhand clothing, according to the Council for Textile Recycling," Livingston said.
Although it takes more effort to dig around and find the recycled gems, resale shops like Buffalo Exchange provide customers with a comfortable, eco-friendly atmosphere that helps them save money, and the environment at the same time.
- Learn more: Read this report on Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
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