Business, Features

BU student promotes sustainable fashion through online thrift store

In a world where fast fashion brands like Shein and Urban Outfitters are all the rage, finding alternative ways to buy cute and affordable clothes without contributing to the dangers of fast fashion takes some mindfulness from the shopper.

Reklaw’s Closet is Boston University freshman Shay Walker’s online thrifting business dedicated to offering a more sustainable alternative to fast fashion. ILLUSTRATION BY LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of the world’s annual global carbon emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, meaning it contributes to climate change. The focus of sustainable fashion is to slow down this emissions process to ensure an endurable future.

Shay Walker, a freshman in Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences, is passionate about how fast fashion affects the world. In efforts to do her part in helping the planet, Walker has started her own thrifting business.

Reklaw’s Closet, which launched in late August, is where Walker resells used clothes to offer buyers an alternative to the big-name polluters in the industry. The online shop’s name comes from her surname, Walker, spelled backwards.

Walker’s drive to halt fast fashion is not a newfound interest — she said she has been shopping sustainably since she was young, even if it was not always voluntary.

“It wasn’t necessarily always feasible for my parents to buy me new clothes, so it was always intrinsic to buy resold clothes or used clothes,” Walker said. “Now, looking back on it, I’m glad I learned that skill young. You can find good-quality things, nice things in the thrift store or on online reselling markets.”

Walker said young people, such as fellow college students, are the ones who can really help change the way products are sold. They can reshape the clothing industry significantly, Walker said, by buying used clothes.

“The world around you is always marketed to be on the newest and the latest and the greatest,” Walker said.

But many of the new clothes that come out in stores can be found in the clothes that already exist, Walker said. Creating near-replicas of old clothing to keep up with a culture of newness, she said, is wasteful.

“What you want is already there,” Walker said. “You just have to look for it.”

Walker, who donates some of the revenue from Reklaw’s Closet to various environmental charities, said she hopes to begin scheduling local cleanup projects soon as part of the mission behind her business.

Hugo Medeiros, a senior in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, found Reklaw’s Closet through the BU Gigs Instagram page, which aggregates student businesses and projects.

Medeiros said he was satisfied with his purchase and that Reklaw’s is a convenient way to shop for good-quality clothing on campus.

“The shirt was in perfect condition, actually,” Medeiros said. “I really enjoyed the experience and I would definitely buy from them again.”

Walker is not the only person at BU pushing for more sustainability initiatives. Lisa Tornatore, director of [email protected], also hopes to underscore the issue of fast fashion to the campus community.

Tornatore wrote in an email that everyone has a role to play in sustainability when shopping.

“Consumers can speak with their wallet by supporting businesses that have a sustainable model to reduce waste in the fashion industry,” Tornatore wrote, “at both the point of sale and at the products’ end of life.”

Reklaw’s Closet is among those shops that rely on the business of those who choose to purchase their clothes outside the fast fashion industry.

Tornatore wrote that when one is finished using clothes or other recyclable materials, the best action to take is to reuse or donate items rather than throwing them away. Disposing clothes this way, she wrote, contributes to carbon dioxide emissions from the generation of waste, microfibers in ocean waters and a host of other potential environmental problems.

“Our waste at BU is incinerated and textiles can emit particulates that are harmful to human and environmental health during this process,” Tornatore wrote. “One thing is for certain: when you are ready to get rid of a piece of clothing, don’t throw it in the trash.”

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