Thrifting Tips for the Environmentally Conscious

As many people have become more environmentally-minded in recent years, thrift shopping has become increasingly popular. Thrifting reduces our carbon footprint by driving down the production of new items and allowing us to reuse what already exists. Nevertheless, there are more and less environmentally sustainable ways to thrift, so here are some tips for making sure your thrifting habits are on the more sustainable side.

  1. 1. If You Don’t Love it, Leave it

    This is the golden rule for environmentally conscious thrifters. Do not fall into the trap of believing that thrifting alone is automatically environmentally friendlier than buying new. Many people, myself included, end up buying stuff they don’t really love only to donate it back to the thrift store later on. Don’t be swayed by the low price tags--if you don’t love it, leave it, otherwise it will probably just sit in your drawer, unworn and unloved.

  2. 2. Think About Repurposing

    Okay, this sort of contradicts my previous point, but if you’ve found a gem and it has flaws, ask yourself if you might be able to fix it up or repurpose it somehow. Don’t be immediately dissuaded by imperfections; sometimes they can add charm to a piece and other times they represent a fun opportunity to learn and attempt some repair or DIY skills. A scratched-up desk? Nothing that some sanding and a new layer of paint and gloss can’t fix. Ripped jeans? How about some cool patches to cover up those tears? The possibilities are endless.

  3. 3. Look for Natural Fibres

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to opt for natural fibres over synthetic ones when it comes to clothing. Synthetic fabrics are essentially made of plastic, and not only are they less durable than natural ones, but every time they are laundered, they release small plastic microfibers that pollute our water systems. So, the more you can avoid synthetic fibres, the better.

  4. 4. Look in Miscellaneous

    When you visit a thrift store, make sure to browse not just the clothes and furniture but also the racks of random, miscellaneous stuff. There you can often find unopened school supplies, good-as-new crafting kits and art supplies, unused home decor… There’s so much stuff that people donate that’s still in its packaging, so why buy these things new and contribute to the overproduction of stuff when you can find them new in the thrift store and prevent them from ending up in a landfill?

  5. 5. Think About Others

    When thrifting, avoid stockpiling a ton of stuff and make sure to think about those whose sole source of clothing, furniture, and other important items is the thrift store. Perhaps you’re in a position of privilege and can choose to thrift-shop for sustainability or style reasons, but many people don’t have that choice and thrift because they have to. A case in point which has recently surfaced on social media would be resellers who stockpile winter coats to resell when people with lower incomes need them. This drives them to shop at fast fashion retailers instead, which at this point we all know have horrifically unsustainable practices. So, moderate the amount you buy from thrift stores so that they can remain a plentiful resource from which all can benefit.

  6. 6. Thrift More Often Than Buying New

    If you have a penchant for thrifting, why not challenge yourself to build a wardrobe entirely or almost entirely of used items and attempt to stop buying new altogether? Many bloggers have attempted a Buy Nothing New challenge for a certain amount of time, so perhaps it might be fun to have a go at it yourself. It could save you a lot of money, help you become more environmentally sustainable, and become less materialistic. Sounds like a win on all fronts to me.

Do you have any special strategies for keeping your thrift shopping practices eco-friendly? Share them with us at [email protected]!