The Ten Rules of Ethical Thrifting

This is effing awesome.

As the economy starts back up — just in time for fall, I might add! — the thrifters of the world are returning to their natural habitat. Thrifting is a feel-good, look-great activity that allows shoppers to fuel their passion for fashion while putting their best foot forward. In recent years, thrift shopping has become one of America’s greatest pastimes thanks to its ethical and environmental benefits (plus, its hella cheap!) But, my fellow thrifters, we still have work to do. Here are some tips to make sure that you’re getting the most ethical bang for your buck:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

1. Do your research.

 Not all thrift stores are created equal. Various thrift shops have been exposed for all sorts of not-so-ethical choices, from underpaying workers to promoting a homophobic agenda. Do your research to know what values you are supporting with your purchase.

Felicity Warner

2. Bring your own bag.

 I mean, it would be kinda hypocritical to buy second-hand clothing and bring it home in a single-use plastic bag. And who wants to pay five cents for a bag anyways?

Unsplash/ Henry & Co.

3. Minimalism is still important.

Just because you can buy all the things, doesn’t mean you should buy all the things! Overconsumption is problematic no matter where you shop, so be mindful of what you want vs what you actually need.

Courtesy of Kristin Vogt / Pexels

4. Pass on the winter coats if you can afford it. 

Or at least, don’t buy four. Winter coats are a special case when it comes to thrifting because it’s a health & safety issue, and there are people out there who literally can’t afford to buy them new. That being said, some thrift stores always seem to have a ton of coats in stock. Basically, remember to use your judgement.

sustainable clothing rack Photo by Charles Etoroma from Unsplash

5. Bonus points for supporting a local business. 

For obvious reasons: less greenhouse gas emissions required for transportation, more local jobs, an increased sense of community… The list goes on.

Thrift clothes Photo by Artificial Photography from Unsplash

6. Especially if it’s owned by someone in a minority group. 

Also for obvious reasons. Above all, buying from minority-owned shops (Black- or woman-owned, let’s say) works to close the wage gap that exists between marginalized and privileged communities. A lot of the time, businesses like these are actually better than more popular companies but don’t receive the hype they deserve.

typing on a laptop Photo by Burst from Pexels

7. Check out online thrift shops. 

Yes, you can still make a difference from your couch! Staying home is one of the most responsible things you can do these days. Check out sites like ThreadUp and Depop if quarantine has you stuck at home.

Closed ATM Unsplash

8. Donate the money you save. 

Yeah, it’s nice to save ten bucks. But you know what’s even nicer? Donating that ten bucks to a worthy cause! (FYI the majority of thrift shops are still businesses, even if they support charity “partners”).

a person sits crosslegged on the ground folding laundry, including jeans and shirts which sit in piles before them Sarah Brown | Unsplash

9. Give back. 

And donate pieces you would actually want to buy — nobody wants your stretched-out sweatpants that have a hole in the crotch (#sorrynotsorry). Instead, you should bring your unwearable pieces to a textile recycling plant, and only donate the pieces you yourself would consider buying.

boutique, clothes, clothing store Pixaby/Pexels

10. Brag about your finds.

 Show off your dope sense of style and let everyone know that that ‘fit came from a THRIFT SHOP! Let’s destigmatize buying secondhand so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of thrifting. Labour practices, the environment, and our bank accounts will all be better off because of it.