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Sustainability and vintage: By the numbers
Photo: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

Sustainability and vintage: By the numbers


Shoppers love the sustainability aspect of vintage. Here are some facts on sustainability for you to use in your shop content

Sustainability is an important driver of the vintage resale industry. It’s also a hot topic sellers can share resources about on social media.

If you’re sourcing stats on sustainability, we’ve put together a list to get you started below, which we’ll continue to add to going forward. Each source has been vetted (see some tips on fact-checking statistics below!). Have a good one to share? Let us know in the comments, or email us!

Once per second

The amount of time that the equivalent of one garbage truck filled with clothes is incinerated or dumped in a landfill. World Economic Forum


Tons of microfibres that end up in the ocean annually from washing clothes. Many of those fibres are polyester, a plastic compound found in 60 per cent of clothing. World Economic Forum


Share of plastic pollution in the ocean caused by all microplastics (including polyester). World Economic Forum


Two to three more carbon emissions are produced from manufacturing polyester versus cotton. World Economic Forum

$560 billion

Opportunity that could be realized by the fashion industry moving to a circular system that includes repurposing, recycling and resale. Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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Share of global pollution from industrial wastewater that originates in the fashion industry. UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion


Gallons of water required to manufacture one cotton shirt — enough for a person to drink eight cups per day for 3.5 years. World Economic Forum

$500 billion

Amount of value lost every year from underusing clothing and not recycling. UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion

2.1 billion

Number of metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the fashion industry in 2018 — about four per cent of the global total. McKinsey & Company


The estimated number of times some garments are worn before being discarded in the U.S. Ellen MacArthur Foundation


Gallons of water used to manufacture one pair of jeans — enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for 10 years. World Economic Forum

Checking sources

So how to separate fact from fiction — or at least from questionable fact?

Here are some things to remember when you’re considering sources to use for your vintage selling business:

  • Is the information from a well-known organization? Look for data consultancies, academic and research institutions, global advisory bodies, government agencies, reputable news organizations, non-profits, etc.
  • Is the organization independent, or is it funded by anyone? Dig around to find out — check the About, Contact and, if applicable, Investors Relations pages.
  • Check the footnotes! This is where you’ll find primary sources —or where you’ll find purposefully left-out details like “based on a survey of 10 people.” (You can reference small sample sizes, but it’s best to mention it.)
  • Look for attribution — where is the information originally from? And if you’re using it, don’t forget to include where you found it!
  • Not sure if an organization is legit? Check its address. Google Maps and Google Street View are your friends.
  • When in doubt, leave it out!

Have a sustainability stat to share? Let us know in the comments!

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