Even when you purchase something ethically made, you are still demanding more resources from the planet. And it takes quite a bit of time and effort to do your research, and often a bigger portion of your budget. While these things are important, admittedly we just don’t have the time to focus on it when we are in a time crunch or need something specific.
Thrifting as an ethical solution is for the most part, a secret. Though it’s sometimes carefully rebranded as “vintage” a la Girlboss, it’s often viewed as a faux pas in fashion circles or worse. I’ve heard people call shopping secondhand “dirty” – which I am never sure if that is in reference to the clothing or the people shopping, both of which are offensive, and neither of which are true. Among some other critiques I’ve heard are that the clothes are ugly, of poor quality, ill-fitting, or that only poor people can shop in thrift stores. <insert eye roll emoji here> There’s lots of psychology to unpack in this collective disdain of shopping at Goodwill, save only for ugly Christmas sweaters. However, we’d be doing ourselves, our wallets, and the environment a disservice to continue to overlook resale as a viable ethical and sustainable solution. It gives clothes in our throwaway culture a longer shelf-life and keeps money in our pockets (and out of the coffers of retailers making poor decisions).
Perhaps one of the biggest prohibitions to shopping second hand is lack of immediacy and availability. Since we are used to getting literally whatever we want, whenever we want it, in all the sizes and colors imaginable (with 2-day free shipping), it’s admittedly hard to switch gears and wait for a specific item in our size or dig in bins awhile until we find something good. Especially when we know what we’re looking for is readily available right now just a Google search away. However, I challenge you to use the opportunity thrifting provides as an exercise in patience, to really determine what you need and what will make you happy long term.
Just because something is fast or readily available, does not mean you should have it. We’ve become so accustomed to buying whatever we want on a whim, we end up with a closet full of clothes that are all whim, and no substance. It doesn’t take much brain power to figure out why thrift stores and Craigslist are full of clothes NWT. We tend to buy things because it feels good in the moment, and then the feeling fades by the time it goes in our closet to be forgotten. If we buy everything we think we want with every passing thought, we’re going to end up with a lot of things we don’t need or use. Just because all these clothes are sitting in your closet and not (yet) in a landfill, doesn’t mean it’s not wasteful or having harmful effects on the environment. In general, it pays to slow down, and think before you do pretty much anything. And digging through resale bins kinda forces you to do that when it comes to clothes shopping.
Beyond the budget and sustainability benefits, thrift shopping can also can add some unique flavor to your wardrobe. As you dive deeper into your personal style and what makes you feel good, you’ll begin to notice the rotating weekly styles in big department stores just aren’t enough anymore. In order to find staples you love that will stand the test of time, you’ll need to look seriously at second hand. Maybe it’s best said by the pros –
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch.
I call that getting swindled and pimped.
I call that getting tricked by a business.
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz