Since I was a child, going to thrift and consignment stores for our clothing was the way we bought our clothes. My parents have always considered thrifting as a way, to pay it forward. We would go into the back of the store to donate our bag of clothing, and then we would come out of the store with our own new bag of clothing that we had thrifted. Donating was just as easy as buying the clothes themselves. There is even a tax write off for donating to thrift stores that are a non-profit. But besides the obvious benefits of saving money, what benefits does thrifting have on the environment?
Thrifting can reduce waste and pollution. If you re-wear clothing that someone else would have thrown away, you are reducing the amount of literal waste that would have become landfill. You are also cutting down on the pollution that comes with the creation of the clothing. The creation of clothing requires material from plants (e.g. cotton, linen) that are most likely ridden with pesticides, along with synthetic fibers (e.g. polyester) that requires oil from energy plants that creates toxins in the air and water. Thrifting also reduces transportation waste through keeping the transaction within the community. Through keeping the transaction local, the funds can be redistributed throughout the community, keeping the finances cyclically local rather than outsourced internationally or to a large industry.
Thrifting supports local businesses and keeps the financial gain within the community. Thrifting is incredibly accessible for low-income households who cannot afford full priced products. Consignment and thrift stores can also be, or support, non-profit organizations. These stores that participate in supporting charities often give the majority of their sales, if not all, to the organization. The buyer can benefit just as much from shopping at a thrift or consignment store than at a store with new clothes. New clothing means full prices and there’s no guarantee of the quality of the clothing. Consignment stores will only take clothing that is in good condition. Therefore, you are guaranteed to be given a quality product. It is even broken in for the wearer to use comfortably.
Thrift shopping is not only a fun way to find unique clothing, it is also a reason why low-income households have clothing they can afford. Thrifting is a way to reduce your carbon footprint by not throwing your old clothing away and instead recycling it. When recycled, these once unused pieces of clothing can now become utilized to their full capacity with their strength and durability. Once reused through thrifting, the clothing is saved from landfills, and the possible new piece of clothing that would have been bought instead, is not being used. When something is thrifted instead of bought new, all that energy wasted and chemicals used, is once less piece of clothing worth. If we continue to go to consignment and thrift stores, we will slowly reduce landfill and begin raising money for the non-profits benefitting from thrifting.