We all know of the classic ways in which our life choices make an impact on the world around us. From the food we eat, cars we drive, items we recycle, amount of water we use, etc., you know the drill. Yet, what many individuals are unaware of major impacts that our fashion choices have on the environment, and we are not talking about if you’re wearing the latest looks that your favorite fashion instagrammers are promoting. In other words, from the production to its eventual disposal, the clothes that we buy can put a lot of strain on the overall health of the environment.
According to the EPA, landfills in the United States contain about 13.1 million tons of clothing waste, contributing to about 5% of overall landfill waste. Even worse, the textiles that clothes are composed of are recycled far less frequently than organic materials, such as food waste and paper goods. For whatever reason, unlike aluminum, plastic, glass, and paper, clothing simply isn’t at the forefront of public consciousness when it comes to recyclable goods. The simple fact is that our collective attitude towards our fashion choices is actively harming to the environment.
Vintage fashion is one of the many solutions! Maresa Ponitch has been leading this front in our very own Greenpoint. Opened in 2012 as a vintage-wholesale warehouse, Maresa’s very own Dusty Rose Vintage shop is an amazing place to add items to your closet in an affordable, eco-friendly way. Rather than simply disposing of old clothes and adding to landfills, vintage shopping at Dusty Rose offers the people the opportunity to incorporate recycled clothing options into your own style. Any irreparable clothing that the Dusty Rose acquires is sent to “rag houses,” where they are turned into fiber-based items such as wiping clothes, teddy bear stuffing, and roofing material.
The store has been a popular shop in the neighborhood to residents and even TV productions. In fact, some of the clothes sold at Dusty Rose Vintage can be seen on TV shows such as Girls, The Americans, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
With the success of the shop, it’s kind of funny to learn how she actually got started in the business.
Her career in vintage clothing started, in her own words, “by accident.” After moving to Philadelphia from Portland in 2004, Maresa began working with a director at the multinational fashion brand, Urban Outfitters. Interestingly, the director had a “pet project” of buying collectibles from around the world (such as Chanel boots, original Levi jeans, etc). Maresa then began working for Urban Outfitters by traveling around the country to various warehouses that process used clothing. From this job, she was able to form “tons of relationships” within the vintage fashion world. Eventually, she decided to branch out on her own in New York, and Dusty Rose Vintage was born right here in Greenpoint.
One of Maresa’s favorite things about her job is the customers she meets. From men, women, and even stylists, she enjoys meeting them all. She recounts one of her favorite memories of one of her customers:
“One of my personal favorites is one of my transgender customers. She started coming in when she first started transitioning and as her body has slowly become more feminine, she’s been coming to experiment with her new identity. Most of us don’t really put a ton of thought into how our clothes represent our perceived gender, so it’s been really cool to see someone put a lot of thought and also playfulness into what they wear everyday. To me, it looks like she’s having a lot of fun figuring it out and I love that I get to be a part of it.”
Maresa may have accidentally fell into vintage fashion, but her love for the environment is clear in her work. We say, brava, sister!
If you’re looking to change your style, you can visit the store’s website here or stop by for yourself at 251 Greenpoint Avenue.