Friendly to your budget, friendly to the planet: The joys of shopping second-hand

Buying second-hand is a strangely stigmatised practice when it comes to fashion. Trends change, but whether leopard print is in or ugg boots make a come-back, what’s always ‘in’ is luxury, splashing out on a beautiful dress or the perfect pair of shoes. Unfortunately, we’re students, and luxury is a luxury we can’t really afford, but what you might not realise is that’s it’s also one we don’t actually need. Second-hand shopping is an affordable solution that’s friendly to the earth and your community and doesn’t require you to compromise on style.

When you think of second-hand shopping you probably think of buying a pulled, lightly-stained jumper in a charity shop that smells vaguely of your Grandmother’s house, but second-hand shopping isn’t about settling for less to save a few pence, it’s about hunting for a bargain and finding the perfect outfit at half the usual cost. My sister refuses to go with me into a charity shop in case we’re seen by someone who knows her, but when she sees me rocking a grey bodycon originally from River Island that I bought for £3.99, she’s full of compliments. Charity shops are often full of things you won’t want to buy, but do a little digging, and you’ll find your next fashion treasure. I’m a bargain-hunter, I enjoy the dig. Some people don’t like the hassle, but the way I see it, that is the only true argument against second-hand shopping, because style and quality sure as hell aren’t. Besides, you’re giving money to amazing causes, I don’t know about you but I’d rather give my cash to an organisation that funds life-changing research and projects, than a transnational organisation that dodges taxes and takes advantage of weak worker-rights in less developed countries.

And it’s not all about charity shops, there are tons of other platforms where you can find a second-hand treasure. Apps and websites like eBay or Shpock are useful, but my favourite is Vinted. Vinted is 100% fashion-focused, and it’s rules of practice are fair to buyers and sellers. When you buy on Vinted your payment is held until you receive your order and confirm everything is okay with your item(s), meaning you pay nothing until what you’ve ordered is right there in front of you. Vinted also allows you to swap items with other users, I once traded a pair of jeans that were too big for me for a brand new Burt’s Bees gift set worth £25. These apps allow you to search for amazing fashion-finds that won’t break your budget, and it’s not all about the pre-loved stuff, lots of people are selling new items too. We’ve all bought something and never worn it at least once or twice in our lives, and there are tons of items being sold with their tags still attached; my best buy by far was a brand new Jack Wills jumpsuit, the tag read £119, but I paid £8.60 including postage. And my favourite dress this summer? A little khaki slip dress I practically stole at £5!

Buying second-hand isn’t just good for your bank balance, it’s good for the planet too. The production process involved with making new clothes does no favours when it comes to pollution levels or the depletion of finite resources. Around 1,800 gallons of water go into making a single pair of blue jeans, those jeans will then likely be worn a handful of times, before ending up in a landfill. But if those bins are sold and bought then they are recycled, and textile waste is reduced. By buying second hand you're not just making your loan go further, you're adopting an environmentally-friendly practice that will benefit the entire planet.

Second-hand shopping is a budget-happy, environmentally-friendly habit that, contrary to popular opinion, doesn’t actually require you to sacrifice on quality or style. So go forth and conquer the charity shops, hunt for those bargains and enjoy the thrill of finding that perfect dress for half the cost!