In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Erin Wallace, VP of Integrated Marketing at thredUP. thredUP is reinventing clothing resale with a mission to inspire a new generation of shoppers to think secondhand first.
Their automated Upcycle Centers have redistributed 100 million garments to date. We got to speak with Erin about the importance of making sustainability quantifiable for customers, the need for scalable innovation, the power of corporate partnerships and more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: Can you talk about the pandemic has affected your work at thredUP?
Wallace: As we all know, people have been sitting around and cleaning out their homes; tidying up. So the demand for our clean-out kits—through which people can send us clothes they no longer have a use for, postage-paid, and we process and get the items ready for resale—went through the roof. On a corporate level, we already worked from home two days a week, so we were used to that—and it wasn’t as much of a transition for us as for many companies.
Waste360: What prompted the pre-COVID policy on working from home?
Wallace: It’s a really cool part of the culture—we call work-from-home days “maker days.” Our CEO, James, implemented this way back. The idea is that, as a start-up, everyone works really hard—but on maker days you should have the ability to have no, or very few, meetings; work wherever you feel most productive; and have time to do whatever gives you the most balance in your life. We’re very independently driven to deliver the results needed without the expectation of being in the office.
Waste360: What can you tell us about trends in resale?
Wallace: Numbers have been going up a lot, and I think that is in part due to the lack of stigma around buying used clothing at this point; 80% of people no longer think there is a stigma. The younger cohorts are increasingly born into a world where secondhand is very common.
Waste360: How does social media play into telling your sustainability story in a way that’s entertaining?
Wallace: It’s really key. And Instagram is where we’re really able to get into the nitty-gritty and the impact of buying secondhand vs. new. One stat we like to share is that, if everyone in the U.S. bought just one item used instead of new, it would save around 6 billion pounds of carbon emissions. And what does 6 billion pounds of carbon emissions look like? It’s the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road for a year. That’s a huge impact for a small step that each individual can take. So we try to quantify this for people in ways that are easy to understand and resonate with them.