Why We Should All Opt to Op Shop
I am an op-shopaholic, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In a single minute, I can look through an entire rack of clothing and know which items are my size, how much they are, where they’re originally from and how much they’re worth. Op-shops are a godsend for someone like me – I would have no money saved if I bought brand new clothes.
The volunteers at my local stores aren’t paid to be nice, but they are. They fold and place my bargains in recycled bags and talk to me about the weather or what they’re making for dinner. Op shopping is such a pleasant experience that I often wonder how so many people turn up their noses to the idea.
“It’s just yuck that it’s been on someone else’s body” they’ll say while eyeing my $6, designer-brand dress.
There’s a huge stigma associated with op-shops. Maybe it’s because a lot of people don’t know how good the stores actually are. They aren’t just cramped, dusty and gloomy caves where rats, moths and maggots converge. You’ll find no insects that crawl around and snack on pilled ‘flannies’ and faeces-stained denim. And not every item of clothing at an op-shop has been worn by someone dying or dead. Gone are the days where people wore patched-up, hand-me-downs and only donated them to charity when they fell apart.
Welcome to 2017! Most of our op-shops now look like this:
While op-shops are fantastic, there’s no denying that modern op-shops hold a mirror to the dark truth of today’s fashion industry. Apart from the odd vintage item, near-new stock fills the stores I’ve been to. In fact, I have purchased stacks of second-hand clothing with the original tags still on them.
We are buying clothes faster than we can actually wear them which allows fast, cheap, unethical and unsustainable manufacturing methods to remain dominant. Unless we actively seek out sustainable and ethical products, most new clothes are likely to have been manufactured in unthinkable places.
Malpractice is so commonplace within the fast fashion industry, that apps have been invented to let consumers know where and how their clothing is made. It’s hard to believe how poorly people treat other living beings, and the world, just to make a quick buck. Workers can be paid as little as fifty cents an hour, animals are abused and slaughtered for their fur and wool, and fabric dyes often poison the world’s waterways and rivers to the extent of farmers being able to guess the colour of the next fashion season.
People are quick to get rid of clothes. They’re encouraged to ask themselves what items ‘spark joy’ when deciding what to toss into landfill – it’s estimated that the average Australian purchases 27 kilograms of new clothing per year. While I agree with and understand the technique of decluttering, it should be used not only to organise but to reduce the purchasing of new items altogether.
If you’re a good person, but like me, need to quench your unbelievable thirst for fashion every once in a while, maybe it’s time to reconsider where you get your bargains. And to those of you who will continue to diss the idea of op shopping, I retort:
It’s yuck that you’d support an industry that diseases the world, rather than wear something that someone else has worn before you.