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A favorite activity of mine is going shopping not at the mall but at second-hand shops and thrift stores. Buying clothes second-hand, or at least sustainably and ethically made, makes an impact. When you buy items second-hand you give them a purpose and prevent them from being dumped into a landfill. You not only do you save perfectly good items from slowly wasting away but you are able to create a unique style that won't break the bank. 

Why Second-hand? 

Tons, literally millions of tons, of materials are dumped into landfills every year, the fashion industry is largely responsible for this. By shopping second-hand you can make an impact and reduce the amount of waste put into landfills. Items that might be useless to one person become a treasure to another. 

When it comes to clothing the fast fashion industry contributes greatly to the waste. The clothes are generally made of synthetic materials which are not biodegradable. Additionally, the clothes deteriorate quickly, lasting maybe a season or two until they have to be disposed of. This just makes you have to buy more clothes and repeat the cycle over and over again. You may think you’re saving money buying cheap clothes but long-term you’re not. Also, the industry produces a large amount of pollution which further harms the environment. To top it all off the labor used is generally unethical. Workers aren’t paid a livable wage and work in harsh conditions. Simply put, stop buying fast fashion and start shopping second-hand instead (or at least buy sustainably and ethically produced clothing). 

A big part of what draws people to the fast fashion industry is their cheap prices. When shopping second-hand the items you find can be an absolute steal and sometimes barely used. You just need to be savvy when shopping, know what to look for, and where to look. 

Second hand shopping is even more accessible than ever with lots of second-hand items being sold online. A potential downfall of this is you do have to rely on seller communication and pictures when getting an item because you’re not always able to inspect it in person before you buy it. However, if you use reputable sites and trustworthy buyers then that problem is diminished. 

Lastly, buying second-hand is always an adventure. Going in you never know what you’re going to find. Every trip is a treasure hunt where you’re looking for an item that will become your treasure. 


In summary:

  • Help the environment by reducing waste

  • Reduce the business given to the fast fashion industry

  • Get quality items at a cheaper price

  • It’s accessible and easy to do 

  • You can find a treasure


Quick tips when second-hand shopping: 

  1. Look through every rack/section because items can easily get misplaced 

  2. Thoroughly check items for stains, rips, scratches etc. 

  3. Try to avoid items you can’t easily clean like raincoats

  4. Set a budget & bring cash

  5. Know when discount days are 

  6. Only buy what you love: don’t bring home items you’ll never wear/use

  7. When you buy a piece of clothing make sure you have something that can go with it

  8. Have an idea of what you’re looking for: some stores specialize in clothes while others in furniture or jewelry 

  9. Look when seasons change or the school year ends

  10. Keep an eye on your cart/items: someone may not realize you plan on buying them

Leah Lindemeyer is a junior at Michigan State University majoring in Communications and minoring in media photography and public relations.
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