Recycled Fashion

A few years back, the writers at Wired observed that it was better to buy a fuel-efficient used car than it would be to purchase a new Toyota Prius, if one was concerned about reducing their carbon footprint. We could very well use a similar approach when it comes to our clothing.

If we here at the EcoMerge blog have done our job, we have educated our readers about many of the environmental and health risks associated with the use of toxic chemicals used to manufacture clothing. We have also offered a number of potential solutions, including buying clothes made from organic materials and using environmentally friendly solutions when washing and caring for our garments.

But surely one of the best options – both from an environmental and economical standpoint – would be to buy as little new clothing as possible. One of the more adventurous ways you can buy used clothing is by paying a visit to The Bins at Goodwill, where clothing can be purchased by the pound. You may want to wear gloves and prepare to get a bit dirty, though. Before you try head out unprepared, be sure to check out the Yelp reviews of the bins (and for the address and map) for hints on the best days and times to go, and watch this video from Portland Monthly below.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are two Goodwill boutiques in Portland – one on SE Hawthorne, and one downtown on SW 10th Ave – which, unlike the unsorted, often filthy madness of the bins, are carefully curated and tastefully appointed with a lot of high-class brands you'd never expect to find at a second-hand store.
And besides the Goodwill bins or boutiques, there are dozens of other thrift and vintage stores in Portland, many dedicated mostly (or exclusively) to clothing. Along SE Hawthorne, just between 25th and Cesar Chavez Blvd alone, you can find Vintage Pink, Buffalo Exchange, House of Vintage, and the Red Light Clothing Exchange amongst several others. The Google map below will give you an idea of the choices in your neighborhood, too.

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And your clothes, worn well and washed gently, might last as long (or longer) than your car!