I love shopping. It’s my guilty pleasure. I could walk miles inside of one mall just looking at all of the shoes, makeup, clothes, and I’ll never get bored! However, I don’t have any of the money to actually buy anything. Also, I boycott many popular stores because I don’t agree with their business. Shopping has always been complicated for me because even if I have the money to buy something I like, a little bit of research is all it takes for me to give up the idea altogether.
As a result, I began thrifting! At first I was doing it just because it was a viable option, but now that I’ve been thrifting for two years, I have found some reasons that someone else would be interested in it as well.
1. Quality goods at actually low prices.
The prices are unbeatable, and for a good reason. The items that they sell are donations, and the stores have to sell items fast so that they have as much space as possible for the new shipment. Every store has different policies depending on what is locally available, but it’s not uncommon for thrift stores to bring the unsold clothes to landfills. That means there is a huge incentive to clear out as much inventory as possible to reduce waste as much as possible. Finally, a win-win for the customer and the company!
Everyday, Goodwill has items for 40% off. As soon as you walk in the door, there will be a sign with the color of the tag that is half off. Every item has a different color tag. For example, if green is the color of the week, every single item with a green tag is 40% off. The Salvation Army has a similar procedure. The colors are 50% off, the rotation of their colors is everyday, and there are three colors every day. For example, let’s say today the colors are red, yellow, and blue. Every item with any of those color tags are 50% off. Tomorrow, the colors will change, so if you find something nice, you better get it today! In addition to that, the Salvation Army has one day where all clothing is half off.
After all of that, some clothes still go unsold. These clothes go to an outlet where they are sold by the pound. Customers look through literally tons of clothing and they are able to fill their own bin to the max and at most pay twenty bucks! These outlet stores are usually a last resort to liquidate as much as possible.
2. Most environmental way to shop.
Everyone has heard of reduce, reuse, recycle, and thrifting is a great way to meet all of those R’s!
First, thrifting reduces waste and consumption. Obviously, instead of clothes going in a landfill, they go to the store where the clothes have a second chance to be in circulation. This keeps pounds out of landfills.
Second, resources are kept in circulation. When you buy something that’s second-hand you are reusing resources. The real environmental part comes with reusing what is still useful. For example, let’s say I need a new pair of jeans. On average, it takes 2,000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans (cotton and indigo are plants that are farmed). If I buy new jeans, then I am increasing 2,000 gallons of water to my water footprint. If I buy from a thrift store, then the jeans have been used by one person before me. Instead of 2,000 gallons of water being consumed by one person, it is being consumed by two or more people. My water footprint is now at most 1,000 gallons. My simple choice to buy second hand has saved 1,000 gallons of water. As consumers, our footprint of consumption quickly adds up on the individual level. In our own personal lives, 1,000 saved gallons of water is not even a dent compared to other ways we consume water (food, transportation, drinking). However, if we were to think of ourselves as a whole group, our contributions do add up to an impressive amount. If me and all of my two friends went thrifting for jeans, we could save a total of 3,000 gallons of water. Although to each of us, 1,000 gal doesn’t mean a lot, 3,000 gallons does mean a lot to the resources that are being consumed. Instead of placing a demand for more resources to be consumed, I am placing a demand for the resources that are already in circulation, therefore conserving water and energy.
This logic applies to furniture, appliances, books, shoes, and anything else. Recycling ties it all together. The ultimate goal is to get 100% use out of all of the resources that we consume. It’s not useful to consumer 2,000 gallons of water for jeans and then let those resources go to waste as soon as they no longer meet our needs. The goal is to stay away from disposability and a linear lifetime of resources.
There is no better feeling than finding the perfect piece of clothing. Some clothes just aren’t sold in conventional malls. There is something so fulfilling about doing something good for the environment and finding something incredibly beautiful. It’s an unbeatable combination of satisfaction. Every day there’s new clothing, every store has widely different varieties of stuff, and every single item is unique. I have a lot more pride in the clothes I wear now because I know that what I found is special among all the clothes I had to sort through to find the perfect piece. Conventional shopping is not nearly as fulfilling. There’s nothing special about clothes on sale, and it seems like there is a formula for what people should be wearing, and what clothes are available to them.
It’s the ultimate guilt-free shopping experience.
I encourage everyone who reads this to be curious about the Goodwill, there’s more to it than meets the eye.