Thrift Shopping: Smart,  Stylish, and Sustainable

Sarah Desroche

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Great vintage finds are busting in every rack at Goodwill.

For the average woman aged 18-22, acquiring well-made clothes without a hefty price tag can be a struggle in itself. Add in factors such as finding time to shop and finding things that meet your personal style, and the quest for a perfect garment can become nearly impossible. However, there is an option for fashionistas of any age who are trying to find fantastic clothes on a budget: thrift & consignment stores.

That’s right, it’s time to hit up Goodwill for next fall’s statement piece.

Unlike most department stores, the merchandise and contents of a thrift shop can extend to any demographic imaginable. For a young adult searching for gender-neutral clothing, thrift stores can offer a vast collection of shapes, sizes, and customizable styles. Thrift stores are perfect for neutral basics: items you’ll always need in your closet. And, at a fraction of the cost of a department store, why not check out the racks at your local Salvation Army?

From a sociological standpoint, there seems to be a fear against purchasing clothes from thrift shops and consignment stores. Humans are comforted by the excitement of brand-new things, and the satisfaction that comes with purchasing new clothing. Many people are also turned-off by the seemingly gross idea of wearing another human’s clothes, but who’s to say a couple thorough washes can’t fix that?

There’s no sin in picking up fresh garments from Marshalls or TJ Maxx, but I believe a balance should be established between what is thrifted and what is brand-new. Even if you have enough disposable income to shop strictly at the mall, both the planet and your wallet will thank you for giving thrift shopping a chance.

Running with that, thrift shopping is a fantastic way to recycle clothing and lessen our carbon footprint on the planet. Americans send an average of 10.5 million tons of clothes to landfills each year- a staggering number that could easily be erased if we all learned to consume wisely. Part of this number is attributed to the unfortunate nature of fast fashion: clothing that is designed to fall apart after just a few washes. Not only that, but over 700 gallons of water are used to manufacture a single T-shirt.

700 gallons.

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Some great Lee jeans I thrifted from The Garment District

If we all spent a few extra dollars on well-made apparel from fair trade and sustainable companies, these astounding numbers could be vastly reduced. Wardrobe staple pieces, such as jeans, jackets, and blouses bustle in every rack- many of them still in excellent condition. Buying shoes from a thrift store may sound like a hygiene turn-off, but the reality is, finding like-new shoes at a consignment store isn’t impossible either.

Perhaps the most well known factor, thrift stores are also a perfect place to exercise your social responsibility and give back to the community. Many thrift stores are non-profit organizations, and in turn benefit millions of people in need. Donating your clothes to the local shop will not only keep them out of the landfills, but also benefit people in need.

We all want to look trendy and up-to-date at all times, but at what cost can that come? The latest fads from Forever 21 may look great for a couple of weeks, but being environmentally friendly will always be a timeless look. And, besides, green looks great on you!


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