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Green is the new black for conscious clothes shopping

By: Emma Dent, Sustainability Team Lead

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to Vinted.

Don’t go calling social services, it’s not the type of addiction that negatively affects my life, I would argue that it benefits it. And the planet.

You may have seen Vinted in the news at the turn of the year as HMRC announced a list of sites that will be subject to new tax reporting rules. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s an app that allows users to buy and sell (predominantly but with exception) pre-loved fashion and home wear items. Sellers can make a bit of cash on goods they no longer want and savvy buyers can pick up items for a fraction of the original price.

For me, there are a number of reasons why I go straight to Vinted rather than a high street retailer. Firstly, it’s the bargain factor. Children are expensive, and I’ve got two of ‘em. They grow, they stain things, they grow some more and they put holes in the knees of their brand new cream slacks ‘breakdancing’ across the floor at the first wedding they’ve been worn to.

Buying new is expensive, and when clothes are outgrown so quickly, the cost-per-wear of quality items galls me. Secondly, it’s knowing that I’m not contributing to the damaging nature of fast fashion.  According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The same source calculates that the equivalent of one rubbish truck full of textiles is dumped in landfill every second.

It’s not just giving a second life to clothing where Vinted scores green points. The company’s own research suggests that by reusing packaging that was intended for single-use, Vinted users prevented more than 17.15 kt of CO2 equivalent emissions. This equated to 70% lower emissions than would have been generated by using new packaging. ‘Vinters’ (I’m not sure if that’s the official term for afficionados) will carefully open their polybags, refill them with goods and tape them closed again to post out.

And I’m not the only one who’s trying to make more ethical clothing choices. According to a survey from McKinsey & Co., 66% of all respondents and 75% of millennial respondents say that they consider sustainability when they make a purchase. Two thirds of shoppers say they will pay more for sustainable products with around 30% stating this is because they want to help the environment.

Sustainably sourced goods also create an opportunity for profit. In the United Kingdom, the market is worth around £41 billion. Putting the planet first is beneficial for both brands and consumers.

So, how do retailers compete with second-hand outlets like Vinted, charity shops and Facebook marketplace? High street fashion stores have already started to shout louder about the sustainability credentials of their products. Where there may have been a smattering of ‘organic cotton’ goods ten years ago, swing tags now boast stats such as ‘made with 60% recycled polyester’ to appeal to shoppers’ eco conscience. More sustainable lines such as Zara’s Choose Life and H&M’s Conscious range use sustainably sourced materials with sustainability messaging clear on product labels. H&M has also offered clothing collections since 2013, where customers can take their unwanted clothes to

the store to be recycled in exchange for a discount voucher.

While steps have been made, there is more that needs to be done. Zara came under fire in 2022 for ‘greenwashing’, after it launched a range of clothes made from ‘captured carbon emissions’. Critics claimed that the complex and costly process used to turn CO2 into the ethanol needed to create polyester was an insufficient counter against the business’s propensity to promote consumerism and excessive consumption.

Sustainability is incredibly nuanced but consumers are voting with their feet. As we move into the new year, I expect that we’ll see more fashion brands up their efforts to operate more sustainably. This will be reflected with marketing activity, in-store advertising and product labels putting green messaging front and center.

Will this be enough to tear me away from Vinted? We’ll see!


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