Thrifting, becoming Vegan and Vegetarian can help save the planet. Here are some reasons to make small lifestyle changes to save the planet. (Infographic by Vanity Rivera)
Maywood Center for Enriched Studies

Opinion: Shop secondhand, save the animals and the planet

Throughout Earth Month, many people find themselves wondering how they can make a positive, long-lasting impact on this planet. Many develop small habits such as taking shorter showers and turning the light off when leaving a room. However, some lifestyle changes are overlooked, even though they are sure to sustain the planet long after April.  

Because of its sustainability and positive effect on the planet, thrifting has recently made a splash in mainstream media. Now that it’s become a trend, American teens are excited to shop for original and affordable secondhand clothing options.

“I love the feeling I get when I find a unique piece for cheap… sometimes I haven’t even paid for it yet and I’m already planning outfits,” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies senior Cristopher Flores said. 

However, thrifting is more than finding an amazing deal on a vintage piece. An individual’s decision to shop secondhand can keep tons of sustainable textile goods from landfills that can take up to 40 years to decompose.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the generation of textiles in 2018 was approximately 17 million tons and the average American disposes of 81 pounds of clothing and textiles a year. 

It is estimated that the recycling rate for textile goods was 14.7% in 2018, making up 2.5 million tons recycled and donated. When textile goods are recycled and clothes are donated to thrift stores, they are then sorted by staff or volunteers, items redeemable for resale are priced and put on the floor for their next owner to find. 

Veganism and vegetarianism make a lasting impact on the environment by reducing one’s carbon footprint. According to the United Nations 2014 report on climate change, climate change is currently affecting every continent’s agriculture, human health, ecosystems, water supplies and even livelihoods.

“I first became vegan because I was disgusted by how the workers were mistreated and unsanitary working conditions,” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies senior Layla Rodriguez said. “Now I’m glad that I can help combat climate change and reduce my carbon footprint by just being vegan.” 

According to PETA, by becoming vegan or vegetarian, one can reduce one’s carbon footprint by 41.7%. Researchers at Oxford University have found that the diets of meat eaters can generate upward to 15.8 pounds of carbon dioxide a day. Opposed to vegans and vegetarians who are responsible for producing approximately 6.4 to 8.4 pounds of carbon dioxide each day.

These studies indicate that the dietary greenhouse-gas emissions amongst meat-eaters were between 50 and 54% higher than those of vegetarians and between 99 and 102% higher than those of vegans. 

Lifestyle changes can make the greatest difference when it comes to reducing one’s carbon footprint and saving the Earth. This Earth Month, consider buying secondhand and attempting to eat clean for humankind and future generations.