Macklemore was right when he wrote “Thrift Shop” and said “copping it, washing it, ’bout to go and get some compliments” because the thrift store is where it’s at! When you thrift shop, you save money, you find some unique ‘fits, and you lower your carbon footprint.
Thrift shopping uses the three R’s that most of us learned about in elementary school. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. At the thrift store, you reduce your personal waste by reusing somebody’s old clothes that just so happen to be in style right now. You can donate your own clothes too, recycling them for a good cause.
Goodwill SoCal’s environmental promise states, “Reselling these goods not only helps fund training and job placement for thousands of people each year, It also saves more than 100 million pounds of usable goods and waste from landfills.” In the consumerist society, it has become so easy for people to buy and waste. One person’s trash can be another one’s treasure.
When you shop secondhand you have the opportunity to buy gently used clothing and wear them as is, or completely reinvent them by upcycling. Upcycling is described as a “creative reuse.” The Oxford dictionary defines it as “reusing discarded materials to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” Upcycling is an excellent form of self expression because by distressing those old jeans, painting on that old shirt or sewing patches onto the jacket you found, you create something completely unique.
The clothing you buy at a thrift store is also substantially cheaper. You can form a whole outfit for a low cost or even just add some basics to your wardrobe. When you’re ready to try something new, just grab a box and donate your old clothes for somebody else to fall in love with.
Recyclist.com helps us visualize the Environmental Protection Agency’s data. They use the analogy that “If everyone in the U.S. recycled their clothing and textiles for one year instead of throwing them away, it would save 30.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s the same as taking all the cars in Los Angeles off the road for one year.”
These statistics are important because any smaller thing we can do to reduce our personal carbon footprints can have a very large scale effect on our environment. In all honesty, thrift shopping doesn’t make you cheap. Thrifting saves you some money and provides a sense of accomplishment because that outfit you found with 20 dollars in your pocket got you a whole lot of compliments. If one day you wake up and realize you don’t like the way your thrifted jeans fit you anymore, you won’t need to fret because they were only three dollars and you can just donate them back.
If you haven’t donated and thrift shopped in the past six months, I highly recommend it. Both your wallet and the environment will thank you.