The first installment on Sustainable Fashion (https://questanews.com/the-clothing-industry-and-environmental-sustainability/) examined the wasteful and manipulative business model of the fashion industry, its rapid-fire succession of designs, and the environmental impacts of toxic manufacturing methods and materials and waste.
Forward-thinking elements within the fashion industry, who have labored for decades to promote durable, ecologically sustainable clothing, acknowledge that this goal is incompatible with the industry’s drive for unlimited expansion of markets and sales. The industry is unlikely to change. So, what can we do about it on our end?
Mindful consumption: Can we free ourselves from endless rounds of externally driven consumerism and engage with clothing more responsibly? Can we be more conscious of our shopping habits and distinguish what the industry tells us we want from what we need? How is our self-image and presentation conditioned by what others consider stylish or desirable? Does shopping for clothes give us an emotional boost that substitutes for real fulfillment?
We can limit our consumption, based on need, not impulse, making sure new clothing is durable, not too trendy, and likely to get frequent use. We can make clothes last longer by caring for them and repairing them. We can receive and give hand-me-downs, exchange clothes with friends and neighbors, and rent or borrow clothes for one-time events. We can buy quality used clothing from thrift stores and sell or trade unneeded clothes to such shops or donate to charities.
And, we can make do with what we already have. Elisabeth White is the founder of Rediscover Your Closet http://www.rediscoveryourcloset.co/. She helps clients identify neglected clothing that, when paired with other pieces or accessories, can gain a new lease on life. Clients are encouraged to keep unwanted but useful clothes in circulation by gifting or donating. She is available for phone or online consultations.
Alternative Fashion: It’s possible to be fashionable and still reduce our impact on the planet, finding treasures and keeping useful clothing out of the waste stream. Where hand-me-down and second-hand clothes were once considered tacky, they are now seen as emblems of sustainability. Ethical Consumer Markets Report found that environmentally motivated spending on desirable second-hand clothing increased by 42% in three years. Resale clothing site depop.com reported a 200% rise in traffic over the previous year and eBay sales have also increased.
Taos County has a wealth of second-hand/thrift shops, offering good bargains on quality pieces. Promoting reuse and reduction of waste is central to their mission statements. The village of Questa alone has three such shops.
Twice As Nice Thrift Store, a project of local non-profit, Artesanos de Questa, is located at 41 NM 38, next to the Questa Post Office. It has a wide selection of clothing (as well as household items) and is open from 11 am to 4 pm, Thursday and Saturday. They are often open on other days, too. If you see a car there, drop in!
Jay’s Unique Thrift Store, located at 2 NM 38, offers some clothing, often brand new. Much of Jay’s inventory comes from the contents of abandoned storage units. Most of the clothing they offer are boots and jackets and other higher end products. Unsold clothing is distributed to local churches and charities or placed in a free box. Hours: Tues-Sat, from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Kiowa Thrift Store, next to CarQuesta, is in transition, with all clothing on clearance through mid-May, specializing in baby and children’s clothing. Clothing is donated to people in need and stored for future demand. Hours by appointment. Call (575) 224-6661.
The Uptown Thrift Store, at 313 Paseo Norte, Taos, stocks quality used clothing and offers cash or store credit for clean, serviceable items. Fabric from deconstructed garments is available to craft-makers and those who sew. Unsold items donated to charity. Hours: 11 am to 5 pm, M-F, Saturday 11-3.
Rethreads, located at 302 Paseo Sur in Taos, near Smith’s, offers select, affordable used clothing. Submit up to 12 “softly used” items per week for store credit. Rethreads sponsors a kids and infants clothing swap on the last Sunday of every month. By arrangement, free clothing is provided to clients of Dream Tree and the men’s shelter. Hours: M-F, 10 am to 5:30 pm, Sat, 10 am-5 pm, Sun, 12-5 pm.
Reneux is an upscale consignment boutique at 126A West Plaza in Taos. Mindful of the environmental impact of synthetic fibers, it features durable, seasonal, trending and classic items in natural fabrics; cotton, linen and flax. Reneux Home features everything for the home and is connected to the clothing boutique. It has a separate entrance at 121 Camino de la Placita. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
Community Against Violence Thrift Store (CAV), in their new location, 1509 Paseo Sur, has an expanded clothing selection. Proceeds provide shelter and other services to women and children in need of safe haven. Unsold items go to other charities. Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 am to 6 pm. Donations accepted Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm.
Habitat Restore’s proceeds help build low-cost, affordable-mortgage housing for qualifying families. Southside: 206 Paseo Del Cañon East Taos. Northside: 16 State Road 522 El Prado.
Fernandez Plaza, just off Paseo Sur in Ranchos de Taos on NM 518, offers gently worn western wear, children’s clothes, and other items, sourced from estate, storage sales, and wholesale buys. Open Monday and Thursday through Saturday, 1-5 pm.
Another emerging approach to buying and selling quality used clothing is through online vendors, such as eBay, ThredUP, Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, and depop.com .
Let’s get off the fast fashion carousel and care for our planet by limiting new clothing purchases to what we really need, buying durable, well-made natural-fiber garments and by seeking out gently worn treasures in thrift shops. Exchange clothing with friends, hand it down to family members, consign or sell it, and donate it to charity—putting clothes on the backs of less fortunate souls and enabling good work.
In next month’s final installment, we’ll visit with area artists engaged in “upcycling,” using recycled and repurposed fabrics to create new products, as responsible stewardship of our environment opens new frontiers of fashion.
Resources on sustainable fashion:
- Sustainable fashion tips: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/fashion-clothing/10-tips-turn-your-back-fast-fashion
- Directory of sustainable fashion brands: https://goodonyou.eco/
Local organizations that accept donated clothing:
- CAV – Proceeds provide services for women and families in crisis. 1509 Paseo Sur, Taos, NM 87571 https://taoscav.org/ 575-751-4824
- Habitat Restore – Proceeds help build low-cost, affordable-mortgage housing for qualifying families. Southside: 206 Paseo Del Cañon East Taos, (575) 999-6437. Northside: 16 State Road 522 El Prado, (575) 776-2165
- Dream Tree – Donations support area youth in crisis. (575) 758-9595 Drop-off: 128 La Posta Rd., Taos.
- Giving Tree – Donations distributed free to local residents in need. (505) 980-3387 Drop-off: Behind Subway 1128-C Paseo Sur, Taos, next to Viva Sports
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters – Pairing at-risk youth with adult mentors. Green donation boxes at: Super Save Discount Foods, 519 Paseo Sur; Del Norte Lounge, 1574 Paseo Sur.