The era of the op shop

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By Jessica Timings

In case you haven’t noticed, op shopping culture has totally evolved in the last decade. Op shops have become a haven for a creative generation looking to save some pennies and score a sweet deal. As an impoverished student and wannabe hipster who loves to snag a bargain, op shopping is my organic gluten free sourdough and coconut oil.

Unfortunately this increase in op shop interest has meant that sweet finds are harder to come by, with way more savvy competition for that circa 1980’s Levi denim jacket. But this shouldn’t stop you from hitting up the op shops rather than Top Shop on your next shopping spree. There are still great reasons to shop at donated goods stores, and heaps of bargains for you to discover.

Did you know that every year in New Zealand 100 million kilograms of textile waste is added to our landfills? That’s 162 million pairs of Levis, 934 thousand Donald Trump’s, or 14 million pugs. In other words, all the clothes we throw away are clogging up landfills across the country, taking up to 200 years to eventually decompose.

Donating your clothes is an easy way to do your bit towards minimising these numbers. Here’s a tip: the next time you go to throw away something, stop. Does it have a little bit of wear and tear? Try grabbing a needle and thread and mending it. Putting in a little bit of effort might mean you can to donate rather than dump, resulting in one less piece of clothing clogging up a landfill.

Op shopping is also a cheaper way of making more ethical purchases. Last month, Tearfund released their annual Ethical Fashion Report. Once again the Wellington-based brand Kowtow (pronounced Ko-Toe) scored super high, and once again Farmers scored worse than my year nine beep test grade. But unfortunately for those of us living off endless variations of boiled pasta, Kowtow’s $99 basic white tees are slightly out of our price range.

However, before you scamper off to Kmart to for ridiculously cheap clothing, try first browsing the racks of a couple of op shops. There is a very good chance you will find heaps of basic tees, jeans and singlets that are cheap as chips. Plus, you’ll almost definitely end up buying better quality.

‘Better quality’ doesn’t just mean longer lasting either. A study by The World Apparel Fiber Consumption Survey in the States found that 68 per cent of clothing in the market is made from synthetic materials. This material often comprises toxins like polyacrylonitriles and formaldehyde. Both of these man-made chemicals have been connected to a multitude of health issues.

Shopping at an op shop means you can source clothing that is made of natural fibers like cotton, flax, wool, silk, and hemp at much lower prices than what these products would usually sell for in store.

Donating to, and buying from, an op shop is just one super easy way that you can support your community, minimise waste, and save money. And by taking just a wee bit more time, you can make fashion decisions that are more ethical and sustainable.



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