Opinion: Thrift Shopping is an innovative way to express style while saving the planet

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Courtesy of Michaela Kessler

We all get a little excited when we bring home some brand new clothes from the store and can’t wait to wear them. But do they always have to be “brand new?”

Thrifting is a sustainable way to bring home new clothes. The affordable price tag is just another benefit since thrifting helps save the planet by preventing large retailers from creating unnecessary amounts of extra clothing that will eventually fill landfills. 

The environment has benefitted from this thrifting trend that has swept the globe. According to Nordic Co-Operation, the earth has been spared 190,000 tons of CO2 and 70 million cubic meters of water because of the offset of thrifting. 

New clothes are produced using synthetic fabrics, which are very harmful to the environment to produce. About 60% of synthetic fabrics are produced using fossil fuels and about 85% of synthetic fabrics will end up in landfills, according to WBUR.  

That is a lot of resources to be wasted on producing new clothing. Trends tend to repeat themselves every 20 or so years, according to Anarchism Today. So if you are looking for clothing pieces that are trending right now, look no further than the antiques in your local thrift shop. 

If you are shopping for new pieces on a college budget, second-hand shopping is an easy method to ensure that those pieces are still there when 20 years go by. Someone can pick up a unique piece at a thrift store, wear it for some time and then donate it back to the thrift store for when the trend comes back around. 

Some argue these clothes should be donated to those in need instead of letting people pick through the store at their leisure. However, many thrift stores donate their profits to those in need.

At the Thrift Shop of Boston, all proceeds benefit The Home for Little Wanderers, an organization dedicated to helping families and children in high-risk situations. This shop does not profit from their business and instead decided to use increasingly popular thrift shopping to benefit those who need the money more. 

Another example of a thrift store dedicated to giving back is Boomerangs in Cambridge. Boomerangs’ proceeds go directly to fund work to help prevent the spread of HIV infections and improve the lives of those living with HIV or AIDS in Massachusetts. 

It’s easy, however, to become blind-sighted by all the bigger thrift store chains who aim to profit off of thrifters instead of trying to make their community a better place.

Value Village, a for-profit thrift store headquartered in Washington, was sued in 2019. According to The List, Value Village misled people as to how much of its profits were actually donated to charity and that the business was a non-profit organization when it was not.

Thrift stores like these should be avoided by shoppers when thrifting. As long as you are educated on where you are thrifting, you can ensure that profits made off of your purchases are going to a good place. 

Thrifting is good: good for the environment, good for communities and good for curious people looking to update their wardrobe. By thrifting, humans could contribute to making the earth a better place for everyone who lives here.

Follow Clarissa on Twitter @Clarissalagasse.