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Consignment shopping is a green way to save on fashion

Americans can help offset the 13.1 million tons of textile waste dumped in landfills each year by consignment shopping. Oklahoma City-area shops are among those helping out.
by Heather Warlick Modified: January 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm •  Published: January 15, 2013

How many pounds of clothing do you own that you'll never wear again? What percentage of the clothes you own do you actually wear?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, clothing and other textiles accounted for 13.1 million tons of waste in American landfills in 2010, accounting for 5.3 percent of total municipal solid waste. What's worse, nearly half of us throw away perfectly good and reusable textiles instead of donating or reselling them.

As many environmentally minded people strive to become more green in their lives, an earth-friendly trend thrives — consignment shopping. Anyone can do it, but John Santore says it takes an “alpha” to really embrace the concept.

Santore owns Nearly New, an Oklahoma City consignment shop that's been in business locally for more than 40 years. Nearly New, located at 9218 N Western, specializes in formalwear, wedding gowns and offers an enormous selection of separates for men and women.

Alphas, Santore explains, are leaders — a club of socially aware people with a passion for enduring style and a willingness to experiment with unfamiliar labels and looks.

“Consignment is fashionability with a conscience. It's one of the most important hallmarks of a movement in our social consciousness to ‘go green,' ” he said.

At consignment shops, you can find high-quality clothing, accessories, shoes and even household items such as furniture. At most, owners bring in their items to be sold and eventually receive a percentage of the selling price.

Whether you're looking to blaze a new fashion trail for yourself in 2013, looking to lessen your carbon footprint or just trying to save a little money, consider stepping out of the mall and into a locally owned consignment shop, where you're likely to find a surprising selection.

10 reasons to shop consignment

1. It's a form of recycling and reusing.

Despite the great efforts of charities, consignment, vintage and thrift stores each year, only about 1.3 million tons of textile waste is actually recycled, the EPA reports, compared to the 13 million tons dumped. When you factor in the resources used to make, package, transport and sell things such as clothes, sheets and towels, the importance of reusing textiles becomes clearer.

Instead of tossing your old textiles, donate them directly to charity or drop them in a local collection bin.

2. Consignment shopping delivers more bang for the buck.

Maybe you just need a few wardrobe staples — a crisp white button-up, a pair of gray wool slacks, a tan trenchcoat. You could buy all three of these items on consignment for the retail price, or less, of a single item.

Pricing formulas vary from shop to shop, but consignment shoppers can buy most items for about a one-third or one-quarter of the retail prices. Clearance sales at the end of seasons tend to offer the best deals. And at consignment shops, the longer an item hangs around on the sales floor, the more it's marked down, so think ahead to next winter as you shop this winter's clearances.

3. It's an affordable way to stay polished as you lose weight.

How many times have you or a friend said, “I'll go shopping once I lose this last 15 pounds”?

If you're already losing weight, it's likely your old clothes don't fit anymore and you need a few interim wardrobe items to get you by. With consignment, you can reward yourself for small triumphs without going broke, then sell the items back once you've lost another couple sizes. Plus, seeing how good you're looking in clothes that fit will keep you motivated to stick to your weight-loss journey.

“As you grow out of them, you can bring those in and put them on consignment to pay for your new fashions,” suggests Barbara Braden, owner of Barbie's Consignment at 364 S Kelly Ave. in Edmond, formerly Anne's Resale. “We take all sizes.”

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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