by ERIN CLARK and ELIZABETH ENDERLE
Americans have long been defined as dreamers, people who search out individual prosperity, financial stability, and personal property. While we, the youth of today, certainly desire all of those things, the definition of what those things mean has certainly changed. This is what I call, the Goodwill Philosophy. And, yes, I am referring to the second-hand clothing chain.
In recent years, the popularity of resale stores has dramatically increased. In fact, the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops states that the number of resale stores increases about seven percent annually. Which begs the question, why is this? We can look at the value of nostalgia and vintage clothing: simply stated, we all have different styles, and those styles don’t always align with what is currently in fashion, and second-hand stores have clothes from all decades and all trends. Of course, there is always the factor of cost, as both young professionals and high school students can agree that lower prices are some of the strongest contributors in decisions regarding purchases. However, I believe that the increased popularity of resales relates to a much bigger picture, and that picture is conversationalism.
Throughout our childhood and young adulthood, we students have been exposed to environmental consciousness. How often have we been encouraged to recycle, to eat all our dinner, and to turn off the faucet when we brush our teeth? All of this stems from the fact that we are privileged and we have access to resources that others around the world and in our community do not have and will not have if frivolous waste of these resources continues. And what distinguishes our stance on this from the stance of previous generations is that we know this. We have been told to be stewards of the Earth because if we don’t act, the things we took for granted will no longer exist. Subconsciously if not consciously, our actions are influenced by this knowledge and acceptance of this privilege. We fight for the rights of those who do not have access to the same resources we do, and we participate in service trips to aid those in need. We promote the ideas of earth-friendly ideas of veganism and vegetarianism. We protest the mistreatment of animals and the use of non-renewable resources. We look for clean energy solutions through solar power, geothermal energy, wind power, and hydropower. We champion campaigns that reduce the amount of garbage in our landfills, such as the most recent campaign against the use of plastic straws in everyday situations, citing paper straws and modified lids as a recyclable alternative. We follow the lead of young professionals who have turned to public transportation, electric cars, and carpooling as means to reduce our carbon footprint.
Still, how do all of these ideas of conversationalism and environmentalism relate to the popularity of resale stores? Clothing, like any other commodity, is a resource. The entire process of making designer clothing requires countless amounts of energy and resources, from dyes to fabrics to water waste. Clothing items have a much longer shelf life than popular trends give them credit for, with some apparel from the 1970s and earlier being in a wearable condition. Not only is buying resale clothing attractive to us as young people with minimum available money for clothing and differing fashion tastes, it also relates to a greater shared mindset that we subconsciously feed into when we shop second-hand: why must we use precious resources to make something new when something pre-existing can serve that purpose? This is the Goodwill Philosophy, that as stewards to ourselves, and stewards of the world, we simply continue to use resources that do not need to be used when a more efficient option is available.