Confessions of a thrift store addict – the environmental, social, and personal impact of second-hand shopping
As early as I can remember my mom would take me thrifting. We’d each go to our respective aisles and meet back at the cash register to unveil our fashion finds. As I’ve gotten older, not much has changed, except I’ve gotten a little more knowledgeable on the items I curate for my closet, and on the environmental, social and personal purpose behind second-hand shopping.
In the big picture, fashion may seem like a small impact point on our environment, but it is in fact the second largest polluter in the world – after the oil industry. Lots of energy and toxic wastewater is used to produce synthetic fiber materials like polyester. Even cotton and linen garments can have a negative impact due to the use of pesticides. The fashion industry is also a major water consumer, using about 1.5 trillion liters of water each year. To recognize your own contribution, think about how many cotton t-shirts are in your closet and multiply that by the 713 gallons of water it takes to create each shirt. That’s enough drinking water for one person for two and a half years.
Thrift stores also make it easier to overcome societal barriers. For most people, buying an all-new wardrobe of hip, summer essentials isn’t financially feasible. However, you can stay on top of the latest style trends, and find high-quality, brand name items by shopping second-hand. Additionally, donating your gently used clothing allows others to bring new life to them. Rather than throwing it in the trash, think about the lifespan of the item and the impact it can have on someone else’s life. If the item has more time to thrive, find your nearest donation center and allow it to live on through others.
My favorite reason for thrifting is the treasure hunt. It’s a thrill to discover name-brand clothing and find the same item online for 20 times the price. The best part? I’ve discovered new brands that I wasn’t aware of that fit my style and shape. This gives me the opportunity to create unique combinations that I wouldn’t have initially imagined. By thrifting, I also tend to spend more time looking over each item instead of buying it outright, processing each decision I make, knowing that I don’t want it to end up unused or in the trash.
Need some ideas? Try a few of my favorites:
Crossroads Trading: In my opinion, the best place for Portland second-hand shopping. It has a large variety of trendy to classic, dressy to casual options. You get 50% of the value if you do a trade credit that’s good to use at any of their locations or 30% of the value of your accepted items if you walk away with cash.
Consign Couture: A high-quality consignment shop in Lake Oswego, offering a wide range of sizing and styles for women. The selection caters more towards name-brand, timeless pieces for professional high-fashion, women.
ThredUP: An online secondhand shop that accepts all kinds of brands. They’ll send you a bag, fill it and ship it and you’ll receive cash or credit for your items, or simply shop the selection of others!
Written for Coates Kokes