Sifting Through Thrift

Jul 14, 2020 | Ethical Production, Sustainable Fashion

Alejandra from @meanderingale wants you to ditch all your expectations on thrifting. Take a quick look at her feed and you’ll see plenty of bright outfits, playful hues, and fun silhouettes that challenge conventional ideas on what it means to thrift your entire wardrobe. Although it’s not all breezy dresses and vintage tees, Alejandra openly talks about the misconceptions when it comes to thrifting, vintage clothes, sustainability, and the challenges living “that life.”

“I think what is keeping most people from living a more environmentally friendly, price, accessibility, and lack of information.”

“Sustainably made clothes and beauty products tend to be expensive. Refill stations for cleaning and beauty products are scarce and very specific to certain neighborhoods.” It’s true that sustainability is much easier depending on what your zip code is. Similar to food deserts that significantly impact access to fresh, affordable food and produce, sustainability is often carved out for those in wealthier areas with better access to healthier choices.

Many communities trying to make ends meet don’t have the knowledge or wherewithal to prioritize sustainability “I have had the experience that several grocery stores do not have experience with reusable produce bags and charge you the tare weight too,” Alejandra notes. This, of course, is no fault to their own. It’s incredibly difficult to make sustainable, and often more expensive choices in pursuit of sustainability when day-to-day tasks pose their own unique challenges. Alejandra notices and understands this predicament, but also acknowledges that not everyone faces the same financial or geographic barriers. “There are people [who] might have the resources to walk the walk but are not informed about their impact,” she says. “Or, they are simply apathetic, think it’s too much work, and/or do not understand the gravity of our planet’s condition.”

“My mission is to help people see that environmentally ethical choices can be done a little bit at a time and that the first step is to be eco-conscious.”

Alejandra offers a digestible solution to these roadblocks. Having a working knowledge of how our collective choices can impact the planet is a huge start to creating a better world for one another, and choosing products that reflect those intentions. “I would also like to share and spread the idea that this type of lifestyle is not exclusive to young people with disposable income,” Alejandra says.

Much of Alejandra’s mission comes down to thrifting and longevity, something she knows a lot about. “In college, my senior thesis was actually about thrift and consignment clothing,” she notes. Almost everything Alejandra wears is thrifted, vintage, or eco-friendly/sustainable. There’s a frequent misconception that sustainable clothing has to look like potato sacks or boxy silhouettes, her playful wardrobe breaks down those assumptions and shows that shopping sustainably doesn’t have to look a certain way.

Alejandra’s choice in fashion, products, and sustainability has deep roots in her childhood growing up in Mexico. “I grew up in Mexico City with my mom and my grandma. My grandma would always remind me to not waste water, electrify, nor food. I grew up with only one pair of shoes for the whole school year and only threw away items when they were done for good. In Mexico, especially in my family, we purchase items to last us a lifetime. To this day, I have clothes and accessories that my mom wore in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.”

“I grew up thinking that if something ripped, it could be sewn back together, not thrown away.”

Longevity is just as if not more important than the production of the item itself. Choosing to be selective in what we buy, purchasing with intention, and selecting items that will last is one of the easiest ways to begin a sustainability journey. Alejandra’s expertise on this has helped her carve out a community on Instagram that turns to her for this same advice, but with constant ideas bubbling on how to better reach her audience, she’s really just getting started.

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