How the fashion industry is impacting the environment


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Springtime means cleaning out the closets and refreshing the wardrobe.

Unfortunately, when people get rid of clothing a lot of it ends up in landfills. However, there are ways to avoid creating access pollution and become more fashionably sustainable – one way is resale.

“Fashion is the second leading producer of pollution for groundwater,” said Matt Bouman, owner of Michigan’s only Uptown Cheapskate resale shops in Grandville and Kentwood. “Most people don’t realize that just because of how much water it takes and the dyes involved. It takes a lot of water to just create clothing. So one pair of jeans is over 3,700 liters of water.”

The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world – one that fills landfills, pollutes groundwater and accounts for an estimated 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2019 World Bank report.

But the latest fashion trend is putting the earth first.

“Sustainable fashion, that’s what we’re all about,” said Bouman. “Over the next five years, resale shopping is expected to increase 50%. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here, to give people an opportunity to give their clothes a second life, get some cash, or turn their items into new fresh stuff.”

Uptown Cheapskate works similarly to the popular online resale platforms – Poshmark, Depop, and ThredUp.

The resale shops buy and resell a variety of brands, ranging from affordable and trendy to high-end designer.

“We are just an avenue for people to bring in their clothes that they no longer want and sell to us. We pay cash on the spot, either cash or store credit. We want to help the environment as well,” said Bouman. We are a great place to recycle clothes, clothing is a lifecycle. We want to extend that lifecycle and really help people clear out their closets.”

According to a 2021 Resale Report by ThredUp, the younger generation is powering the rise of secondhand shopping.

The report states in 2020, 33 million consumers bought secondhand apparel for the first time, and 76% of them plan to increase secondhand spending in the next five years

By then, the secondhand market is expected to double, reaching $77 billion.

“It’s all just driven by the demand over the last 10 years,” said Bouman. “Resale shopping has gone up 75 percent. It’s actually leading growth, as far as the type of shopping, even outpacing online shopping for the last five years and it is expected to continue that way. That’s just driven by people wanting to do better.”

Doing better, one piece of clothing at a time.

“We’re just really trying to do our best,” said Bouman. “To give people an opportunity to not put their clothes in the landfill and be able to find great stuff at our stores.”

Any clothes uptown cheapskate doesn’t buy, they will recycle for you or donate to Mel Trotter.

Vendors can expect to be paid 25 to 35 percent of the original price, however certain high-end and designer brands are worth more.

If you’re interested in selling, the process takes about 30 to 40 minutes for an Uptown Cheapskate employee to survey the items being considered.

The newest store in Kentwood opens mid-May and is located at 2901 28th St SE, Kentwood, MI 49512.

The Grandville location is located at 4693 Wilson Ave SW Ste A, Grandville, MI 49418.


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