We live in a world in which the cry for conscious and sustainable consumption is becoming increasingly louder. Even the people in the back are now awake. When we talk about clothing, it’s no surprise that platforms like Vinted have brought about a shift in the way we buy and sell clothing. At the push of a button, we can build our own second-hand fashion empire from behind the comfort of our smartphone screens. But beneath this apparently eco-conscious facade lie more complex questions: is the use of Vinted and similar platforms really a step towards a sustainable transition? Or is it an excuse not to change our purchasing behavior?
💡 Did you know that Vinted was invented 15 years ago? When co-founder Milda was moving in 2008, she felt she had too many clothes to take with her to her new place. Knowledge Justas offered his help and created a website to get rid of her clothes. And the rest is now history.
The benefits of second-hand clothing
Let’s start at the beginning: buying pre-loved clothing is definitely a good choice. By giving items a second life, you reduce the demand for new clothing production and lower your individual ecological footprint. The main advantages of second-hand at a glance:
You help reduce waste and CO2 emissions. The clothing industry is a major polluter. When the demand for new clothing production decreases, there is a positive impact on waste and CO2 emissions.
You help save natural resources. The production of new clothing requires raw materials such as water, energy and raw materials. By buying second-hand, you avoid using additional natural resources.
You are an example of conscious shopping. A conscious purchasing mentality forces us to think about our purchases. Do you really need an item? You can train yourself to shop less impulsively and aim for long-term use of your garments.
You support the local economy. If you enter the local second-hand market, you theoretically support the local economy. Unfortunately, this is often different in practice. Swipe, swipe, favorite, buy
Vinted is a great facilitator for its 75 million members to make their wardrobe more sustainable by giving unworn items a second life. The platform has been encouraging reuse for years and has an impact that should not be underestimated on the way you and I look at second-hand items today. Pre-loved clothing is embraced so much more than it was about 10 years ago. That is a big step in the right direction and Vinted has certainly contributed to that.
Yet we must recognize the potential pitfalls. You’ve probably heard of ‘the thrill of the hunt‘? Literally translated: the thrill of the hunt. The expression is often associated with buying second hand, simply because it can lead to overconsumption. An excuse to keep buying. Whether this happens consciously or not is beyond dispute.
Yet we must recognize the pitfalls: second-hand shopping as an excuse to keep buying.
The paradoxical consequence of pre-loved platforms like Vinted? It makes the buying process easy and offers you an endless source of clothing items, making it tempting to buy more than you need. The low prices and feeling of exclusivity can contribute to non-stop hunting. Of course, the platform is attractively designed so that you can continue scrolling effortlessly. And with countless filters you will find exactly what you are looking for… Or more than what you initially had in mind.
Although Vinted offers a great opportunity to combat clothing waste, it also continues to fuel your purchasing impulses. In addition, we should not overlook the worldwide sending and receiving of packages. As a user, you have probably sent something to France or bought something from Spain, haven’t you? And I can well imagine that there is regular disappointment among the millions of members when it turns out that their second-hand purchase is of poor quality. What is also shocking is that a large part of the Vinted range is actually new clothing items (cf. labels). All these elements are a result of fast fashion companies that have dominated the clothing sector for decades.
Part of a much bigger problem
A switch to pre-loved in re-use seems good news for the climate. But what researcher Hilde Van Duijn draws attention to via Groene.nl is eye-opening: “The sales figures of the major chains have not fallen and the supply of new clothing has not decreased either. We have not started producing less or buying less. So it seems that we have accelerated our usage cycle even more. I get the impression that consumers are now finding it even easier to buy something for one evening or party because they can then sell it on Vinted. This means that clothing has less value, that we have come to see it as a disposable product – it costs nothing. That encourages fast fashion even more.”
So regardless of whether people buy second-hand clothes or not, fast fashion companies continue to produce new clothes at a rapid pace. And its production has a huge impact on people and the environment. Not to mention the poor quality of the clothing that is produced, which in practice cannot actually get a second or third life. No thanks for your devastating approach, Shein, Nakd, Primark, H&M and the like.
💡 Vinted proudly says that they prevent 1.8 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO₂e) per second-hand item. Good looking! But what is not shouted from the rooftops is the following: a test I did myself via the app showed that 30% of my clothing selection was assigned the label ‘new’. Could a third of the supply hardly be called second-hand? Another eye opener.
Conclusion: whether Vinted is a sustainable alternative depends on its use by consumers
Vinted is neither a sustainable illusion nor the solution for a more responsible fashion world. As is often the case, the truth lies in the middle. The platform offers a great opportunity to consume consciously, change the fashion industry and combat clothing waste. But it is up to us, as individuals and as a society, to embrace that possibility with open eyes and a critical mind. By rethinking our consumption habits, buying consciously and having a dialogue about sustainability, we can transform Vinted and similar platforms from fashion playgrounds to instruments for positive change. Tips for using Vinted consciously can be found here.
Our own behavior therefore makes the platform sustainable or not. And that change (in ourselves) starts today. After reading this blog, will you use platforms differently like Vinted? Be sure to let me know in the comments or via Instagram.
By rethinking our purchasing habits and having a dialogue about sustainability, we can transform Vinted and similar platforms from fashion playgrounds to tools for positive change.
My name is Eline Rey and I have been studying responsible dressing for more than 5 years. I am not a trained sustainability expert and this is my own view. I write blogs and opinions because I want to spark conversations, plant seeds and create awareness through my blog and Instagram. With our individual choices we cannot transform the sector in an instant, but collectively we can send a signal to the world.