“No one is too small to make a difference”.
It's the title of Greta Thunberg's new book: this young activist for climate change made speeches that raised awareness in people and media around the urgency of environmental issues.
In other words, it means that everyone of us is important in their own small way. Change can start from the simple things of our daily life. Like something we do everyday - getting dressed.
We all know it by now, fashion is the second post polluting industry in the world. People keep saying that so much that the concept of "polluting" doesn't really upset anyone. It's too unclear, too obscure.
Some data may give you a better idea.
According to a research made by Greenpeace Germany, from 2000 to 2014 the average consumer has purchased 60% more clothing every year. Unfortunately, clothing is also used for half of the time it used to be. Clothing items are soon, very soon thrown away, generating an incredible amount of waste. Only 25% of clothing around the world is collected to be reused or recycled.
With such a turnover from consumption to new collections, the textile industry produces 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions and consumes 93 billion cubic metres of water (which is 4% of the world consumption) to produce clothing and accessories, according to Ellen MacArthur Foundation's survey.
These numbers are so huge you can't even imagine them, and one single person may feel quite helpless.
Yet, there are some more interesting and more encouraging data. According to ThredUp, if every single person in the U.S. purchased even just one second-hand item instead of a brand-new one, we would save millions of tons of carbon emissions. It would be like stopping using hundreds of thousands of cars for one year.
Luckily enough, things are changing, and change starts from the young like Greta, hopefully spreading all around the world.
Fast fashion appears to be more and more uninteresting to fashion lovers. It's considered to be ordinary and dull. And definitely not eco-friendly.
We need an alternative solution connecting our expectations to have a defined, personal style with a green lifestyle.
A very interesting opportunity lies indeed in vintage and second-hand clothing, which is both good for your style and for your environmental awareness.
Reuse allows to extend the lifespan of an item, influencing the industry from more than one point of view: from industrial pollution to waste through carbon emissions, creating a virtuous circularity that reduces production and pollution.
Reusing clothing means cutting the environmental costs that would be required to produce new pieces. Moreover, it makes us more inclined to contribute to this virtuous chain, by reselling clothing items we don't use anymore and, in general, by taking more care of the things we wear.
However, vintage fashion is not only a powerful weapon that protects sustainability.
The pleasure to research and find a unique, well-made piece, often a designer or luxury one, is an experience. It's the opportunity to create a closet that is entirely designed and customized for yourself - not one which is just a copy of someone else's.
The world of vintage fashion is so wide that the gems you can research and discover are potentially endless, both for those who just started approaching it and for those who have been navigating it for a long time now.
Just ask to anyone who experienced the thrill you have when you find the perfect piece, the only one among others: it's such a priceless pleasure, a great satisfaction, something may only be described as the feeling collectors get when creating their wunderkammer piece after piece.
Sometimes you feel like living a sustainable lifestyle has to mean that you have to perform some boring and mechanical activities you do just because it's right, not because you enjoy doing them. And, as for any change, sustainability often has to face misunderstandings and skepticism.
But it's true, no one is too small to make a difference.
Buying vintage is a way to demonstrate you appreciate the history and culture of fashion, and also enriches and customizes your style, adding value to what has been created with care and has been able to last.
When you're aware of all this, building your closet becomes something more than just having fun. It becomes experimentation, research, excitement. It's like building yourself in your own way, in balance (this is the aim) with a clean, pure and breathing world.