I love thrifting. In fact, I’d say it’s the main thing that got me into sustainability in the first place. Growing up, I always thrifted due to necessity and continued doing so into my late teens. It wasn’t until then that I’d heard somebody mention thrifting as a way to save the planet.
This piqued my interest and sent me down the sustainability rabbit how from which I did not return. It changed my life and how I viewed thrift stores and thrifting.
How is thrifting sustainable? Think of it like recycling in a way. By purchasing things second-hand, you’re preventing them from ending up in a landfill. Not only that but you’re lessening the demand for new things to be made.
Think about it. We only have fast fashion because of the high demand for new, trendy clothes. Take away the demand and we might just be able to make a difference.
Thrifting has become more and more popular over the past couple of years and might I say, almost like a trend. There’s nothing sustainable about trends. And while I’m glad that more people are shopping second-hand due to environmental reasons, we have to be careful. There’s a way to thrift sustainably and a way to thrift unsustainably.
If you read my post on why I’m quitting ethical fashion then you’d know that I’ve moved to a more slow way of shopping rather than a strictly ethical way of shopping. This is because the main problem with fast fashion and the reason we have fast fashion is overconsumption. With prices as cheap as fast fashion, it’s so easy to just buy buy buy! Walk into a forever21 and you could walk out with 25-50 items for only $100! That’s insane!
And this is where we run into problems with thrifting. Buying second-hand is usually a lot cheaper than buying new and the prices are comparable to fast-fashion prices. This makes it so easy to overconsume at the thrift store. With a lot of these items often ending right back at thrift stores or even worse, the landfill.
So how can we avoid this problem while still thrifting to help the planet?
How to Thrift Sustainably:
1. Shop on a need to buy basis
This should apply to any time you shop. But especially when prices are so cheap it can feel really easy to just buy a lot and buy frequently. But this is 100% the fast fashion mentality. And while a lot of thrift stores can feel really cluttered, most of them don’t have an unlimited supply of stock the way other stores do. Try to buy only what you need.
2. Buy quality pieces
While buying fast fashion brands is a better option than buying them directly from the brand, be careful of their quality. One of fast fashions tricks is cheaply made clothing so you have to buy more frequently. Even if you’re buying second-hand it could still fall apart rather soon and then where does it end up? Where we don’t want it. And while I’ve purchased fast fashion second that has lasted a really long time, just be conscious of the quality and materials used.
3. Try to buy in your size
It’s hard enough to find bigger sizes when you need them but especially at the thrift store. When young people buy clothing that’s 3 sizes too big for them only to alter it to be their size, it’s incredibly thoughtless. And it’s also wasteful to cut off excess fabric to throw it away. If you buy something that doesn’t quite fit and alter it, there’s nothing wrong with that. But try to avoid buying several sizes too big on purpose just to alter it.
4. Thrift where your values align
Thrift stores are almost always non-profits. A lot of big thrift stores like Goodwill, Valu Village, and Salvation army make their values known, and what organizations they support. Take the time to research your local thrift stores as well or reach out to them if you’re curious. Our money is so powerful. Every dollar you spend casts a vote for the kind of world you want to see. And for non-profit stores, your money is going to the organizations they support.
5. Bring your reusable bags
You know I had to throw this one in here. But it’s still important to bring your reusable bags no matter where you’re shopping, including the thrift store!
Being mindful is always the first step to shopping sustainably no matter what you’re shopping for. Every time you thrift, the planet will thank you. So keep on thrifting, friend!
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