Thrift Shopping Thrills and Benefits

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As a young teenager growing up I remember going with my mom to a thrift shop and thinking that buying other peoples stuff was a little less than unsanitary or “icky”. I also remember being really worried that a friend from school might see me walking in the store. Quite frankly I was embarrassed and ashamed. After being dragged to various Goodwill stores and thrift shops over the course of months I started to reluctantly sift through some of the racks. I remember the smells of all the clothing collectively formed a stench I found less than appealing which further added to my apprehension of the whole process.

Each hanger held a more hideous piece than the last. It was like I was reliving someone’s repressed fashion life from the 80’s. After about a minute of browsing through the racks I stumbled upon a lovely little gem of a dress. I remember at the time I was really into the BEBE brand and what would usually sell for close to 80 dollars was to my surprise only 5 bucks. I said to myself “wow, 5 dollars for this? Oh yay it’s my size too.” I tried it on and proceeded to checkout. It’s almost as if every negative thought I had about this place just vanished from my mind in an instant. I was excited about my dress, I was excited it fit me like a glove, and I was most excited it cost me a mere 5 dollars.

Thrift Shopping in A New Light

From then on I looked at thrift shopping in a whole different way. It became exciting to delve through a rack not knowing if the next hanger pushed to the side would reveal a “must have” piece of fashion. I’m not sure that men would view this process with the same elation but getting clothes at a rock bottom price should be enough to muster even a little sparkle of enthusiasm.

As I came to be an adult I now frequent garage sales and absolutely love shopping at thrift and consignment stores. I’ve also learned the amazing benefits of buying used. If you recycle your old clothes to Goodwill and purchase other previously owned clothes you are completing the circle of life of your wardrobe and essentially creating zero waste. I’m glad that I came to that conclusion as opposed to the days when I was uninformed and not very open minded. Also since then, my fashion sense has changed quite a bit too. I now mostly look for vintage inspired pieces over a trendy and predictable one and furthermore have gained appreciation for all the clothes on the rack (even the “hideous” ones.)

“I have a lot of friends today that would not set a foot inside a thrift store or much less be caught at a garage sale. Although situations have arisen where they thought what I was wearing was pretty and asked me where I got it. I’m no longer ashamed to say a “thrift store” or “I picked this up at a garage sale for a dollar.” Their reactions seem to be a mixture of uncertainty and perhaps a little impressed. I’m hoping to convert them to shopping pre-owned over time!” – Angie

Thrift Shopping Has Environmental Benefits

Shopping used has its benefits and they aren’t limited to just saving money. With the green movement making a wide sweep in America and the world, more and more people are exposed to and informed of environmental issues. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that just because its labeled green does not mean that you should purchase it. For a few reasons – although it may be labeled “eco friendly” does not make it so. To me the true way to approach reducing waste is to: REUSE when it comes to buying clothes. Instead of buying a 100 dollar pair of organic cotton designer jeans, go to a thrift shop or consignment store and buy a pair of regular jeans. If you must have organic clothing instead of buying three pairs, just go for one.

I know sometimes there isn’t a way around buying things we need like toilet paper for example and that’s okay. The principle of reusing can’t be applied to everything! You can always buy recycled toilet paper like Seventh Generation over other traditional brands. But when thinking about shopping for new clothes try to opt for the gem hidden among a sea of 80’s throwbacks. It can be quite the gratifying experience, almost like a treasure hunt with a great reward in knowing you are saving money and saving the planet.

And there is always re-purposing used clothes for those DIY types…check out the tweet below:

My Personal Tips For Thrift Shopping

  • Come Back For Seconds: Come back for seconds or thirds or fourths! Since the inventory in thrift stores is constantly changing, you could be missing out on some good stuff if you never come back to check it out.
  • Tis The Season: To be on the lookout for hot items during the times when most people are giving, around Christmas time, Tax season, Spring Cleaning, and Summer Breaks near colleges.
  • Plan Ahead: Let’s face it, many of us don’t like to plan ahead when it comes to winter time and we might need a new coat. But most of the time people unload winter coats and such after the season is over during spring time. If you plan ahead by buying a warm sweater or jacket in spring, you could be thanking yourself later in the year for your smart thinking.
  • Do A Double Take: Make sure you double check the item you are purchasing in the thrift store for holes or any damage that you might have missed. Things to look out for -> holes, stains, rips, etc.
  • Mind Over Matter: the faster you drop any pre-conceived notions of dirty clothes the faster you realize you’ve been missing out. Also, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed by shopping at thrift stores, you are doing the environment a great service.

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Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Lance McCord on Flickr.

Angie Tarantino
About Angie Tarantino (148 Posts)

Angie Tarantino is a contributor and part founder of The Environmental Blog. She covers animal rights, green tips and general green news topics She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Follow @EcoChic314

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5 Comments on “Thrift Shopping Thrills and Benefits

  1. Great post!

    When I was younger, I wore a lot of hand-me-downs from older cousins and my clothes were passed on to my younger cousin or other needy people.
    Reusing stuff is better than tossing them out to be recycled especially when they are in a perfectly good condition.

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