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Climate change is a complex and growing problem throughout the world, and there are countless ways to tackle the challenge. For one Mountain View High School junior, recycling gently used clothing is a solution for curbing the crisis.

Amelia Kopp, who is also the program director at the nonprofit Discovery Shop in downtown Los Altos, said recycling vintage clothing is a more sustainable approach to fashion, as the new garment manufacturing process greatly depletes precious natural resources.

Kopp’s passion for sustainability began in sixth grade when she first learned about climate change.

“Climate change just seemed like this big, insurmountable problem that nobody knows how to solve,” the Los Altos resident said. “We have all these different solutions, but there’s no way to piece them all together.”

That prompted Kopp to wonder how she and her friends could make a difference. That’s when she decided to leverage her love for fashion and vintage shopping.

Giving back through recycling

Over quarantine in March 2020, Kopp launched a resale shop on Depop, a fashion marketplace app that sells vintage clothing. With The Innocent Shop, Kopp became a top seller and was later verified. After selling on Depop for nearly a year, Kopp said she had made approximately 300 sales, mainly vintage items from eBay, rag houses, Goodwill and her personal collection.

Her success on Depop inspired Kopp to give back. She reached out to the Discovery Shop – which sells donated items to raise money for the American Cancer Society – and began volunteering there.

“I really wanted to get involved in my community because things were opening up again, and so was the Discovery Shop,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to volunteer but also do something I was really passionate about.”

On her first shift, Kopp met assistant manager Laura Breaux, who is now manager. At the time, Breaux had “mentioned that they were attempting to curate the section for youth clothing,” Kopp said, but the section wasn’t taking off due to a lack of volunteers.

Kopp saw the opportunity and stepped up, coordinating with then-manager Patricia Chell to sell the pieces on her Depop shop. Because clothing sold at the Discovery Shop had to be in near-perfect condition (no holes, stains, tears, etc.), Kopp offered the less-pristine items on Depop instead.

“That’s when we started talking about doing an event where we could sell those items that maybe have some holes or some stains, but they’re really minor and people will still buy them,” Kopp said. “We would have the opportunity to give the youth in the community an affordable way to access sustainable clothes.”

The idea would soon lead to the Discovery Shop’s Under $10 sales targeted toward local teens. As the name suggests, clothes Kopp had begun taking to her Depop shop would be priced at $10 or less.

When comparing her experience selling online versus in person, Kopp said the most notable difference is customer engagement. Despite the online reviews and feedback she received on Depop, the line out the door at her first in-person sale was much more rewarding.

“It was just amazing to see that all of these youths, all of these teenagers, really, really wanted to shop sustainably,” she said.

The merchandise ranges from vintage T-shirts to an assortment of funky sweaters and accessories. At the first sale, the Discovery Shop tallied more than 100 sales and close to $1,000 in profit. According to Kopp, the shop has held six similar events, increased sales by 70%, and tripled the number of youth volunteers since 2021. At its last sale March 5, she said the shop made $770 from selling 98 items.

“Having more youth volunteers means that we’re able to put these things on while also contributing to other parts of the shop,” said Kopp, who expressed gratitude to co-workers Sam Berry (head of curation) and Chloe Park (head of promotions).

The Discovery Shop’s next Under $10 sale is scheduled Saturday.

The Discovery Shop is located at 243 Main St.

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