Vintage & Consignment the New Green….or is it Black?


NY Times reported this week on the latest surge in consignment & thrift store shopping.

Rising oil prices? Tightening of the credit markets? Increases in foreclosures? Greater demand for brand-name luxury items at reduced prices? Or perhaps clothing-in-closet overload? Whatever the reasons, a great opportunity is emerging green-ify our closets in one of the best ways possible.

I agree fully with the NY Times that the trend is increasing and for me personally, I could not be more enthusiastic about it. Buying and selling used items is one of the greenest ways to stay chic AND keep textiles in the marketplace, thereby preventing or delaying their ultimate arrival to the landfill.

More and more celebrities and women of all walks are turning to vintage, consignment shops to buy, sell and/or trade in their goods. Take Fashion Dig for example offering this Debbie Harry outfit for $2500 (on sale). Or Ricky’s Exceptional Treasures, a luxury resale store on eBay. Apparently last month Ricky Serbin, the owner, recorded over 150,000 hits to the online store. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…thousands of sellers on eBay are reselling their clothing, and that does not even include all the local consignment and thrift stores found in every major city in America.

Whether the shopping is for luxury labels or new summer hits, bringing clothing back into the market and then buying used goods are remarkable ways to stay eco, while looking fresh. For me personally, I always try to drop my used clothes off at a local charity that accepts clothing…I like knowing that someone else will get use out of the clothes and that they are being recycled somehow. Since I recently moved back to the Boston area, I have not found one non-profit yet that turn to regularly; however today I learned about a cool local organization called ‘Second Chances’. Turns out they are actually having a clothing drive happening on June 25th in Somerville. They appear to have some excellent local partnerships and uses for the clothes.

Another good practice that is fun is to drop off clothes with a consignment store and get a % of the proceeds from the sale when sold. I recently discovered Porch & Wardrobe boutique in Arlington and had good success selling some clothes there so far.

Rule of thumb: if you have not used something or more than 12 months, chances are, you are not going to use it. The item is just taking up space in your closet. Meanwhile, someone else could be making use of it. Drop it off at a charity or sell it on eBay!

Quick Facts:
50% of the textiles we throw away are recyclable. However, the proportion of textile wastes reused or recycled annually in the US is only around 20%. That means that approximately 80% of textiles head straight to the landfill! What can we do to reduce that?

Here are 3 Simple Tips for Greening your Closet

1) Keep your clothes ‘in the cycle’ by dropping them off at a local charity, thrift or consignment store or re-selling them on eBay. 80% of textiles end up in landfills. Lets try to reduce that! Note: If your clothes are brand-name, re-sell them on eBay. There is a HUGE market for slightly worn brand name items.

2) Turn old garments into new garments. That is if you have a designer-creative side in you, cut them up and re-sew. Be creative. In fact Greenloop recently had such a contest the ‘re-shirting’ contest to see who could make the coolest shirt out of an old shirt (without adding any new fabric!). Contest ended May 23.

3) If the clothes are really old and ratty, cut them up and use them as rags.

What do you do to stay green and recycle your textiles? Tell us your favorite vintage, consignment or clothing recycle story.


  1. kitchendetails said,

    September 5, 2008 at 3:37 am

    Thank you. This was good info. I am putting together a Sustainable Fashion Show for8th graders class…the entire thing will be sustainable so am looking for good ideas. We will do an outfit that was bought at thrift store, a “borrowed” outfit from mentor/adult and have a “swap” day where the kids all bring their outgrown clothes and they “swap” and make new outfits..then we are considering last outfit to be from store since formal and they want that experience…anyway, thanks for the help!

  2. syansen said,

    September 5, 2008 at 4:30 am

    This is a GREAT idea. So inspired that you are doing this with your 8th graders! Where are you located? There is a Fashionably Fair fashion show happening this weekend in Boston Ma put out by Second-world (

    I encourage you to check them if you can and go to this is you are near Boston. Jute and Jackfruit will also be part of this event. You might consider giving a brief talk on some fair trade designers and what they do (eg handloom weaving by women artisan groups in Peru). For example, Indigenous is a fabulous company: using organic fibers and also 100% Fair Trade.

    Please also note that my blog has moved to – please come visit there!

  3. kitchendetails said,

    September 16, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Thanks for the great idea on doing talk on the fair trade designers..that would be really cool and the kids would eat it up! I will check on the link. When I had my retail portion of store, I had many co-op vendors that employed (mostly women) people in impoverished countries..some of my best mdse came from them. I am excited about the fashion show! Unfortunately, I am in the Northwest Florida area so could not get to Boston! It takes a bit of time for our area to catch on to anything esp when it comes to anything “green”. Thanks for the input. Cheryl

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