We all know that thrifting is a great alternative to buying from fast fashion companies. It has become increasingly popular with the growing critical view of the environmental impact of fast fashion. Recent studies have shown that Gen Z is more environmentally conscious and thrifting, which was once thought to be cheap, has now been destigmatized. It has instead emerged as an eco-friendly trend and we can even find many social media influencers participating in thrift hauls and thrift flips on YouTube.
The rise of thrifting has had mostly positive effects. It has created a world where consumers are preventing unwanted clothes from going to a landfill while at the same time decreasing the demand for new clothes to be produced. If you care about minimizing your contribution to fast fashion and its environmental impact, shopping ethically is one way to do it. Buying secondhand clothes is one of the most sustainable choices out there since it results in fewer resources that are needed.
Thrift stores are often local small businesses that we can support instead of multi-million dollar corporations and the best part is that the clothes are affordable. Secondhand items are usually cheap, and thrift stores are great for finding unique, good-quality clothes at an affordable price. They are the exact opposite of fast fashion retail stores that sell overpriced clothes with cheap quality. Selling clothes you don’t wear anymore or donating them to thrift stores is also a great way of promoting sustainability.
The downside to all this is that thrifting was once meant for poverty-stricken communities and those who could not afford regularly priced clothing items. The rise of thrifting has introduced a new crowd of consumers who put a strain on these communities’ resources. This new trend of thrifting has invited the middle and upper classes who can accommodate the higher prices of the fashion industry but choose not to. While this is a great thing, it has also resulted in thrift stores raising their prices for consumers who they know can still afford their new prices. Thus, in a way, thrifting has become gentrified in some places.
Another negative is that if thrift stores are over-shopped, decent clothes that are being sold become inaccessible to people who actually need them. Online thrift stores are a great way of thrifting but I’ve noticed that there are a lot of pages that resell fashionable thrifted items for much higher prices. This no longer makes them cheap which destroys the very essence of thrifting. Reselling is great for attracting consumers who may not live near thrift stores or are looking for a particular item but charging high amounts for secondhand clothes is one way to further gentrify thrifting.
Thrifting may have a few negatives when it comes to an influx of consumers but no negative is so big that it should discourage anyone from buying secondhand items. Clothes are still being produced at large and not all thrifted items get sold. The world still has so much unsold clothing in general and at the end of the day, reselling is not that much of a problem if resellers source their items mindfully.
There are many things to keep in mind when thrifting. Overconsumption is still a big problem when it comes to both thrifting and buying from retail stores so we have to be careful not to over-indulge in shopping. If you’re morally conscious about ‘stealing from the poor,’ you can avoid thrifting in low-income neighborhoods and shop at vintage stores instead. You can also avoid buying items that are in high demand like professional clothes and winter jackets. Of course, there is usually no harm in buying such items but be mindful of the stock available.
I’ve also noticed the rise in online thrift stores and I think it’s a great way for people to make some extra money by selling their old clothes. If you’re looking for a way to shop sustainable or looking for some good thrift stores with affordable prices, here are some great ones on Instagram:
At the end of the day, we need to remember that while thrifting can be a fun pastime, it is also the only way to source clothing for others. We must not give in to the consumerist mindset that our wardrobes have to be bursting with clothes and we have to keep up with the latest trends of clothing. Hoarding clothes seems to be the underlying problem of everything when it comes to the ethics of shopping. It is important to understand the impact of our shopping and thrifting is no exception. It’s time to be mindful consumers and prioritize our impact on the environment and our communities rather than our personal selfish gains.