by Madelyn Luther
We all have heard it in the news or on social media recently—fast fashion is bad, single-use plastics are bad, and overconsumption in general is bad. While it may be trendy right now to diss brands like Shein and Forever 21, overconsumption is more than performative activism. As Americans, many of us participate heavily in various chains of commerce and have consumeristic value orientations. However, here are two small ways that you can limit consumption and switch this consumer-driven mindset.
1. Reduce food waste
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste in America “is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.” While much of this waste is a result of retailers and manufacturers, some of it is from individual consumers. When people buy or cook more than they need and simply throw away the extras, it is detrimental to the environment. This waste ends up rotting in landfills instead of, for example, helping solve the national and global food crisis.
Okay, how can I help? Try to practice the first in, first out method. When possible, eat the food you purchased or cooked long ago (as long as it is safe to eat) first and wait to eat the fresh food. Make a shopping list before you even get to the store and include the quantities of each item you wish to buy. Don’t shy away from a bruised apple, misshapen strawberry, or other bruised or upcycled products—these items are still edible, though perhaps not aesthetically pleasing, and you should avoid wasting them if possible. Donate any surplus non-perishable food items you likely won’t eat to local Tallahassee food pantries such as A New Day Initiative, Second Harvest of the Big Bend, and others. And remember, purchasing less food means you’re also saving money in the long run.
2. Shop secondhand and limit clothing purchases
The fashion industry generates a large amount of waste each year. Fast fashion relies on swift turnover, high volume, and low prices, which are unsustainable. To combat this, you can practice circularity, as the United Nations Environment Programme suggests. Moreover, before purchasing a new item of clothing, consider why you’re buying it. If it’s a frivolous expense that will end up living at the bottom of your closet for the next five years, consider saving this item for another time. You can also prolong the life of your clothes by not throwing them away prematurely. This not only helps the environment but will help save you money! Consider shopping secondhand, because this is your next best option to not buying anything at all. Thrift stores and secondhand retailers are great options instead of buying brand-new clothes at the mall or online. There are many local secondhand clothing stores in Tallahassee, like The Other Side Vintage, which is located in the Railroad Square Art District. Make a stop at this eclectic shop full of fashion, furniture, art, and home decor at the next First Friday Monthly Festival on October 6th to catch live music and other festivities, or any time during their normal business hours. Four lucky Tally Trash Challenge participants will be entered to win $25 gift cards to The Other Side.
In addition to the many options for second-hand shopping in Tallahassee, you can also participate in a local Buy Nothing group or clothing swap.