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Cheap and Environmental Thrills of Thrifting or Ukay-Ukay

Cheap and Environmental Thrills of Thrifting or Ukay-Ukay

Photo | Mouline Sagun

Nothing compares to the wonders of thrifting or in Filipino, ukay-ukay. This term originated from hukay, or to dig. It makes sense because you literally have to dig up from piles of clothes or scour rows of racks to find what you exactly needed. Ukay-ukay consists of second-hand, pre-loved, or surplus clothes. The choices are endless as well. You can choose from multiple styles of shirts, tank tops, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, jeans, pants, shoes, bags, and more.

Apart from the unusual ukay-ukay shopping experience, the cheap price entices and keeps many from coming back. You can already build your own outfit by spending 500 pesos or less. You can even bargain and ask for a discounted price.

Photo | Mouline Sagun

No wonder why the ukay-ukay craze even made its way on internet. Now, there are myriads of live sellers on Facebook offering ukay-ukay. Social media influencer Jean Dalida or Skinniest Jeans on her socials, documents her ukay adventures and shares her ukay hauls and ensembles. Even the actress and fashion icon Heart Evangelista unapologetically wears clothes she scored from thrift shops.

These are just some of the perks that come with ukay-ukay. However, our love for fashion, in general, comes with endangering our environment.

The Dark Side of the Fashion World

Without realizing it, the fashion industry has a fair share of environmental problems we face. The fashion industry contributes 10% of global carbon dioxide output, more than international flights and shipping combined.

Its negative effect can also spread in our waterways. In fact, 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile treatments and dyes. In most garment-producing countries, untreated toxic wastewater from textile factories is dumped directly onto the rivers. Wastewater contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic which are harmful to humans and animals.

Photo | Mouline Sagun

Additionally, the fashion industry is a major water consumer. A huge quantity of freshwater is used for the dyeing and finishing processes of clothes. The high demand for water supply can lead to the depletion of water resources.

The process of manufacturing our clothes is not just labor-intensive, but also demanding of our natural resources. Fashion evolves swiftly and our environment can no longer keep up. A single piece of clothing already undergoes several procedure and resources. What more if it is mass-produced to suffice global demand?

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Ukay-ukay as Sustainable Solution

Photo | Mouline Sagun

This is where ukay-ukay plays its role. It does more benefit to our environment than just our wallets. It is also a step towards sustainable fashion. Findings in research conducted by Fashion Revolution Philippines in 2019 that ukay-ukay is recirculated and recycled as much as possible, with very little of it ending up in landfills. Recirculation and recycling of clothes lessen the need and negative implications of reproducing clothes.

Photo | Mouline Sagun

Additionally, second-hand clothes extend garments’ life span. Most clothes or garments often end up being thrown as trash. It doesn’t just congest landfills, but also makes it difficult to dispose of. Reusing and repurposing second-hand clothes minimizes these drawbacks.

Ukay-ukay is more than just second-hand or pre-loved finds. By unraveling the effects fashion industry on our environment, it makes us more conscious about the purchases we make. Unknown to some, we contribute to diminishing the harsh environmental impacts every time we consume any second-hand items. For every thrift shop hauls, we are not only saving our style and wallet.

The havoc brought by the fashion industry urges us, consumers, to be responsible and conscious in every purchase we make. How will you take part in this action? For more articles like this, follow the link.

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