“Why buy thrift?” you may ask. Thrifting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect the environment while still participating in consumer culture. And Macklemore wrote a song about it, so it can’t be all that bad.
(While I will use the terms “thrift” and “used” interchangeably, keep in mind that your options for used clothing are not limited to stores like Goodwill and Value Village. Vintage shops and consignment boutiquesprovide clothing with a heftier price tag, but equal environmental benefit.)
What are these environmental benefits?
1) Thrifting keeps clothes out of the landfill, in more ways than one. Buying thrift gives clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill another chance to be worn. Additionally, thrift clothing is of high enough quality when obtained to be resold and is therefor likely to last and stay out of the landfill longer.¹
2) Thrifting facilitates the cycle of donation. Large thrift stores often have on-site donation facilities and many stores also provide discounts off future purchases in exchange for donations. Buy, donate and buy again.
3) Thrifting allows for environmentally conscious shopaholism. Thrift clothing is inexpensive, allowing for fast fashion-esque buying practices (i.e. buying a new wardrobe each season) without fast fashion’s environmental consequences. Feel better knowing you’re using what’s already here.