While looking stylish and staying on trend is definitely important, it’s also important to stay informed about where your clothes are coming from and how they are being made. Recently, the many consequences of our society’s need for cheap, fast fashion have been brought to light in the media. The True Cost, a documentary available on Netflix, shows many examples of how the methods used to make our clothes is harmful to both workers and the environment. Garment factories in places like Bangladesh and Cambodia have terrible, sometimes dangerous conditions for workers who are paid less than three dollars a day. On top of these saddening truths, much of this cheaply made clothing has gone to waste, millions of tons of it are sitting in landfills in Haiti.

Over the past few months I’ve become a fan of thrift shopping and trying to find cool ways to wear used clothing, but after learning about some of these concerning facts, I could see that there were even more benefits to thrift shopping than just looking good. Now, I want to be more conscious of the way my clothing was being sourced, and I think it’s important that others do the same. I was glad to see that there are companies out there finding new ways to make clothing out of recycled materials, as well people on my own campus like this Fashionista, who are making an effort to buy more used clothing.

When I first spotted her, I immediately loved her casual grunge look. Then, I loved it even more after learning that she had recently replaced much of her wardrobe with used clothing. Her look is the perfect example of how pre-loved pieces can create awesome looks for lots of occasions. She starts with a simple, faded blue T-shirt that is comfortable, relaxed and perfect to wear to class. With this, she pairs a cropped pair of acid-wash jeans that have a cool ‘80s vibe. She completes her look with some black lace-up shoes and a pop of bright color from her teal socks. Her completed look is incredibly unique, because each piece was hand-picked and different than clothing you’d find at many stores.

Now I’m not saying that shopping at department stores or large retailers is all bad, because there are definitely times when those types of places would be the best choice for buying certain clothing.  Although, in many situations thrift or vintage shopping can be a great option as well. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can also be super stylish and different, while at the same time it doesn’t promote the exploitation of cheap labor. So next time you go shopping, consider buying pre-owned pieces at a thrift store, and make sure to educate yourself about where your clothing is coming from, you may be surprised at what you find.

What is your STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK? “Always buy used when you can, never new.”