If you guys didn’t already know this about me, I’m a big advocate for sustainability. No, I’m not perfect at it, and I have a failed plastic-free journey to prove it. But I try my absolute best to do what I can for our planet, and part of that involves my love to shop secondhand.
I will admit, my love for shopping secondhand came from an Instagram influencer. Her name is Venetia Falconer, and she’s all about supporting slow fashion. I love to contribute to her #OOOTD social campaign, which stands for “old outfit of the day.” It’s a play off of the usual “outfit of the day” by encouraging women to post outfits using old items they found secondhand. It has inspired my wardrobe, and in return, has also inspired the way I shop for my possessions in general.
If you’re looking for some tangible ways to make environmentally-friendly decisions in your life, shopping secondhand is a great place to start. It helps you reduce your plastic waste (given that most stores are using polyester and other types of plastic microfibers in their clothing), and also supports local communities and charities that could use the income.
Now I am not perfect at this! I do not shop secondhand 100 percent of the time. But if I can choose, I choose secondhand. If I had to put a number on it, I would say 90 percent of the time I’m looking for something secondhand. Here’s why I do it.
It’s good for my wallet
The first one is probably the most obvious one: Shopping secondhand helps you to save money! You can get really great items at cheaper costs when you go to thrift stores or secondhand shops. For example, we have this entertainment console for our TV in our apartment that we got secondhand. This piece is a really nice dark wood, has drawers to hold remotes and movies, and even a large space to house our record player. Instead of costing us hundreds of dollars at a high-end furniture store, we spent a whopping $25 at Big Reuse in Brooklyn!
It’s good for the environment
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Why create more trash when there’s already so much trash to be used? Secondhand shops are essentially beautiful stores full of other people’s trash and at such a low cost! We can decrease landfills by buying stuff that would have been considered trash by someone else.
While it sure is fun to match the trends of today’s society, it’s not so great for the environment. In 2015, the EPA reported that 10.5 million pounds of textiles took up landfills—accounting for 7.6 percent of total landfill capacity. We’re addicted to shopping “fast fashion” at stores that support low-quality clothes for low prices, making it easy for people to buy today’s trends and throw them out when they’re out of style. This brings me to my next point.
It forces you out of today’s “trends”
You never know what you’re going to get at a thrift store! It’s hard to be with today’s current “trends” when you’re shopping secondhand. However, once I decided to step out of today’s fast-fashion focused trends, getting dressed actually became fun for me again. I now take pleasure in finding clothes that I truly love and look good on me, instead of wearing what everyone else is wearing. It’s way more fun to have a particular style that’s different than everyone else.
It sparks creativity
On the same topic, shopping secondhand requires you to think outside the box. When it comes to clothes, furniture, home decor, or even books, you have to really dig and think creatively. There aren’t any catalogs showing you how to dress or how to set up your home. Instead, you have to decide for yourself what types of pieces you want while also being open to what’s available secondhand.
It slows down your purchasing
I do love the creative aspect of shopping secondhand, but it does mean having to be patient sometimes. If there’s a particular item that I’m looking for, I usually have to be patient and look in a few places before finding something I truly love. For example, I really wanted a fun woven bag for summer but didn’t feel like supporting fast fashion to get it. I decided to wait and see if I could find something at a shop that I would love, and would also be a higher quality bag. Low and behold, I found one that I absolutely love in the basement of a vintage shop in Walker, Minnesota when I was up at the lake for vacation!
This is also helpful for when I decide to purchase something that isn’t secondhand. Like I wrote earlier, I’m not 100 percent secondhand all the time (although I would like to be). Every now and then I do find something I truly love at a “firsthand” store, and after a lot of thought, will treat myself to something quality. Like a Hybrid watch from Fossil, or a pair of nice jeans from Madewell.
The items are usually higher quality
How often can you say you bought a Vince Camuto top for $5, or black J.Crew flats for $15? Probably not that often! I love how all of the items that I have purchase secondhand have been from solid clothing companies. Instead of having a closet full of H&M and Forever 21, I now have a closet made of items from Kate Spade, J.Crew, Madewell, Michael Kors, Lucky Brand, Cole Haan, Zara, Vera Bradley, an so much more!
It makes you appreciate what you have
When you’re not all bent up about having to follow certain trends or wear certain clothes, I find that your perception of your possessions starts to change. While shopping is fun and I still love to do it (especially when it involves digging in a secondhand shop), I no longer see my items as disposable. I try to make the most of what I have and to treat my items with care. Instead of throwing something out when there’s a hole in it, I sew it up. Instead of throwing out the shoes with beat up soles, I get them resoled at a cobbler. Instead of ditching a piece of furniture to the sidewalk because something knocked it, we find a way to make it look beautiful again.
It supports a good cause
This isn’t always true for secondhand shops, but most of the time secondhand stores are either small businesses or supporting some type of cause. A lot of the thrift stores and secondhand shops in Brooklyn are small businesses, so shopping at these places make me feel like I’m supporting my local Brooklyn community. Other larger shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army aren’t small businesses, but they are still doing a lot for their outer communities. This is also true for online secondhand stores like Poshmark. It supports a larger business but is still supporting smaller “businesses” that individual users have created on that app.