Have you been curious about thrifting, or you’re already hooked and wanna convince your loved ones to shop secondhand? Here are 3 reasons why buying recycled fashion and other secondhand goods is super beneficial, with a few suggestions that may help you get started.
So, the 3 reasons why you should shop secondhand are…
The environment will thank you!
By extending the life of used goods, you do these 3 key things:
- Saving perfectly usable things from the landfill
- Reducing your carbon footprint
- Opposing chemical pollution & water overuse
New things are constantly manufactured for ever-changing fashion, cultural, design and technological trends. Most things (mass-produced goods) require raw, unprocessed material. This overproduction for material is what makes buying new things problematic.
As I’ve mentioned in my post on sustainable period products, the conventional cotton industry is a top user of pesticides, alongside human rights abuses and excessive water use. Cotton, oil, and plastic production take a considerable amount of carbon, water, and insecticides which poses threats to the earth and our environment.
By choosing used goods, you financially divest from harmful processes required to manufacture a new version of that item. You say “NO” to excessive overproduction by piggybacking on a secondhand item’s embedded carbon and water (the amount already used during its initial manufacturing process). It also helps that most used items no longer have their packaging. New things are incredibly wasteful due to excessive, and often plastic, packaging. Since your used item’s packaging has since long been discarded when it was first opened, that’s less packaging to fill your disposal bins and your local landfills and recycling centers. (Remember: If buying used goods online, request that any packing material is made from recyclable paper!)
Besides a secondhand store, there are businesses and creators everywhere crafting things from “upcycled” material: already existing items or their waste byproducts.
Repurposing an item often requires additional materials with embedded water or carbon (metal hardware, paint, cleaning, etc.) depending on how the materials are manipulated or refinished, but this amount is negligible compared to corporate overproduction waste.
It also gives new life to the old products, and the resulting object is unique and performs just as well (if not better) than a brand-new item! You can also try your hand at upcycling at home, too.
The Buy Nothing Project
Buy Nothing, Give Freely, Share Creatively
The idea behind The Buy Nothing Project is a supportive, local community whose members give & lend things to each other, free of charge!
The Buy Nothing Project is a network of hyper-local gift economies with the founding principle, “Give Where You Live.” Buy Nothing Bainbridge was co-founded in July 2013; by the end of 2013, there were 80 Buy Nothing groups in the United States and Canada. Throughout 2014, over 350 more groups had been added. By the end of 2015, that number had nearly doubled, with groups in 18 countries worldwide. The project continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Consider starting or joining a “Buy Nothing” Group in your area (Click here to see existing groups all over the world). Because of its hyper-localized nature, only join one group in the area you live in. Post pictures of stuff you’re giving away or request something specific. Besides building community, this project is all about using what is available to you already (instead of buying new).
Affordability, Quality & Style
The most visible difference between buying secondhand and brand-new is cost. Although you face takeaways with thrifting, such as a limited selection, you will definitely save money with your awesome finds!
You can find like-new items that function just as well or better than brand-new. Older household items and furniture may even be hardier and sturdier than new items on the market, considering how businesses today cut costs of production by using cheaper, lower-quality material.
If you’re a lover of books, Christmas ornaments, various knick-knacks and other miscellaneous decorations, buying secondhand is THE way to maximize your dollars while curating a unique, personalized collection.
This also goes for both vintage and modern-day fashion brands. You may find a designer dress or a pair of real leather shoes—considerably cheaper than buying new, even if they practically have never been worn!
It takes time sifting through secondhand stores but with little effort, you can find plenty of things by thrifting that fits like a dream and speaks to your very soul.
*Always thoroughly inspect your potential items in-store before purchasing for any signs of damage, wear, or malfunction. A store might examine goods for visible cosmetic damage without looking at its interior or underside closely or testing its functions (i.e. a electronic gadgets, a sofa or table’s underbelly).
Shopping to Donate for a cause*
Secondhand stores are almost synonymous with being nonprofit, or to raise money for a cause. This is a great concept! However, one must be scrupulous about where they donate and shop to ensure their money goes to causes they actually stand behind.
The most well-known thrift stores are big-name and religious organizations. The issues with these are that, when taken at face value, they seem like they are working a charitable cause. However, a quick Google search can reveal troubling information about them.
For example, Goodwill’s name evokes this feeling with its advocation of job training and hiring disabled and special needs workers, yet they exploit loopholes in the Fair Labor Standards Act to pay their employees less than minimum wage while Goodwill’s CEO takes home $400,000 and $930,000 annually.
*My personal rule of thumb: avoid shopping or donating to religious organizations, which hold anti-gay or anti-choice views. This includes the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul. I look for smaller store chains, or even non-chain stores, which raises funds for local organizations in your area. Family-owned stores are acceptable because you’re giving business to a local within your community.
Below, I’m showcasing secondhand stores who have passed my ethical criteria. These can be found near me (the San Francisco Bay Area) and one specific to New Mexico. Also peep Pick of the Litter, which I’ve mentioned at the very beginning of this post.
Out of the Closet
Out of the Closet, 20 stores across 7 states
This nonprofit was founded in Los Angeles 1990 after the HIV/AIDS epidemic began an era of homophobic fearmongering and thousands of deaths within the gay community.
“96¢ of every dollar collected by [Out of the Closet] directly fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs and services in the U.S. and abroad. Providing cutting-edge HIV medical care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.”
Buffalo Exchange, 49 stores across 17 states
Although privately-owned, they deserve mention for their Tokens for Bags® system. For each reusable bag you bring they’ll donate 5¢ to a local nonprofit, represented by a simple token. Customers have a choice of 3 boxes, or local nonprofits, to drop their token into.
Since its creation in 1994, Buffalo Exchange has raised over $778,660 for thousands of local nonprofit organizations […] Many of the beneficiaries are animal rescues and shelters, community food pantries, children and family funds, women’s support shelters, homeless aid, LGBT organizations, environmental causes, and local library or school organizations.
Community Thrift Store
Community Thrift Store in San Francisco
Founded in 1982, this nonprofit allows donators to choose which charities benefit from their item sales. Donators give directly back to the community and NOT to some wealthy, corporate CEO. The full list to choose from includes LGBTQ+, children & women’s services, environmental causes, animal rescues, and so much more.
[Working] with over 200 Bay Area charities, [we] accept donations on behalf of our charity partners, sell the items in our store, and then disburse the proceeds.
Thrift-A-Lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Revenue generates funds for the TGRCNM, which provides resources such as medical care, clothing, support groups, and much more to the trans community in New Mexico. Read here for local news covered Thrift-A-Lot’s opening.
Newly opened, this store provides a safe space for trans and non-binary folk to explore fashion with their drop-in closet and household needs programs, while revenue generated support NM-based nonprofit, the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Habitat ReStore, 900+ stores across 49 states
Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live, and as a global nonprofit housing organization they’re the largest non-profit global builder. They work in 70 countries and help over 1,400 communities in the US alone. Founded in 1976, not only do they help secure affordable housing for those in need, they provide low-cost secondhand & new home improvement items through the ReStore chain. Proceeds go directly to Habitat for Humanity’s efforts in aiding impoverished communities.
I also found two great stories of Habitat’s LGBTQ+ friendliness:
- Habitat San Francisco was founded by Steven Jacoby, who tragically passed from AIDS complications shortly after Habitat SF’s very first meeting.
- Since 2013, The Twin Cities Habitat in Minnesota holds an annual Rainbow Build, an event that “aims to raise awareness for issues involving affordable housing in the LGBTQ community [and] the unique housing challenges that impact this community”.
While Habitat was founded on Christian values, some local affiliates have actively helped the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, the organization as a whole has a non-proselytizing policy in which they “will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen/respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith” (Habitat).
There’s so many great reasons to buy secondhand. These range from personal benefits (such as saving money and finding unique items) to global causes towards helping those in need and environmental preservation.
Even if you can’t buy used goods all the time, buying one or two things secondhand still impacts you and the environment positively!
You may need to trade some extra time and effort out of your day, but the perks of buying used goods definitely outweighs this drawback. Please join me and millions of others who frequently shop secondhand. Thank you for reading and have a lovely day! ❁
Originally posted on my old blog, The Plant That Never Blooms (on Blogspot)