Our precious and irreplaceable planet is overflowing with ‘stuff’. Some of it is essential for our comfort and safety and is used every day or at least frequently. If you are someone who loves to venture into the great outdoors in and around Colorado Springs, then outdoor equipment is totally essential when you are hiking, camping, biking, or enjoying some other favorite outdoor activity. However, chances are your outdoor gear is pretty useless the rest of the time, especially if your activities are limited to just a few trips per year. So let’s talk about how buying used outdoor gear is good for the environment.
First, here’s a question to ask yourself:
Do you really need to keep buying the latest in hiking, backpacking, camping, and other outdoor gear if you’re only going to use it a few times annually? Of course, buying used outdoor gear is a wise choice if, like so many of us, you have an issue with excess clothing and equipment cluttering up your basement, closet, or garage. But buying used outdoor gear also has massive environmental benefits. Let’s start by taking a look at the environmental impact of outdoor clothing.
We all love our moisture-wicking shirts and cozy fleece jackets, but many of them are constructed of plastic-based fabrics that take decades to break down. Here are some disturbing environmental facts about polyester:
- Polyester is partly derived from petroleum, and the oil manufacturing industry is one of the world’s largest polluters.
- A polyester shirt takes anywhere from 20 to 200 years to decompose.
- Special kinds of colorants (disperse dyes) are needed to dye polyester. These dyes are insoluble in water and do not readily decompose. Textile factories emit wastewater containing leftover dye into the environment, where the toxicity of the dyes causes serious issues to plant and animal life.
- Polyester dyes also adversely affect people. Among dye workers, there are high incidences of lung disease and cancers.
- Polyester is water-thirsty. The material is created by an energy-intensive heating process that requires large quantities of water for cooling. This can result in lower groundwater levels and reduced access to clean drinking water in vulnerable communities where polyester tends to be manufactured.
WHAT ABOUT RECYCLED POLYESTER?
Fairly recently, the sustainable fashion industry introduced recycled polyester. Buying a garment made from recycled polyester is said to help minimize waste and to lessen the impact of the fossil fuel industry. However, one fabric you might want to stay away from is fleece made from recycled polyester. Studies have shown that fleece made this way may be more polluting than its original form.
WATERPROOFING: THE SOGGY FACTS
Waterproof clothing or items with a durable water repellent finish (DWR) often contain perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Both are toxic and are being found in air, water, natural ecosystems, and human bodies.
BUYING USED OUTDOOR GEAR: THE TAKEAWAY
Minimizing the production of yet more new gear and clothing reduces oil production, prevents dyes and chemical treatments from entering waterways, and saves lots of water.
Unfortunately, most clothing doesn’t finish its life in style: almost 85% of textiles never get recycled, and garments made with synthetic materials will likely still be in a landfill 200 years later.
Thus, the most environmentally responsible garment is one that already exists. If you purchase a used item of clothing, you will lengthen its life by an average of 2.2 years. In turn, this reduces its carbon footprint by 82% along with decreasing its impact on water and waste. The same applies to outdoor gear.
BUYING USED OUTDOOR GEAR FROM A CONSIGNMENT STORE
Outdoor gear consignment stores are treasure troves full of useful equipment and clothing for your favorite outdoor activity – hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, climbing, skiing, etc. Since outdoor garments made from polyester are both common and durable, you will find plenty of them in our Colorado Springs consignment store, showing few signs of wear and tear. You can feel good buying used gear from MER, knowing that you are reducing your carbon footprint and are playing a part in keeping both Colorado and the rest of the beautiful blue orb that we live on around for future generations. And as an added benefit, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy by buying from us because the funds go to good causes.
Let us help you get what you need by buying used outdoor gear and minimizing your environmental impact at the same time.