15+ Amazing Benefits of Thrift Shopping
Updated: Nov 13
There used to be a time when second hand shopping was nothing to be proud of. Thrifting was considered as something only the ones who could not afford new stuff. Nowadays, thrift shopping is gaining in popularity. You can sell and buy second hand items online and, thrift stores are popping up everywhere. Therefore, I have listed several benefits to go and take a look at your local thrift shop.
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For most of us, the price of a product is the most important deciding factor for buying. One of the biggest benefits of second hand shopping is that you can find top-notch clothing brands at bargain prices saving you a lot of money. Often these clothes are worn only a few times and were donated by the previous owner who doesn’t like it anymore leaving it up to you to give it a new life. Did you know that the average woman wears an item only 7 times before it is discarded? According to the researchers who interviewed about 2000 women, this is because some women wear an item just once because they don’t want to repeat an outfit in a photo posted to social media… Luckily these pieces often end up in thrift stores when new potential owners (us) can find them for only a fraction of the price.
Did you know that cotton as a crop uses about 6% of the world’s pesticides (and 16% of insecticides), more than any other single major crop. Not that, after harvest cotton, is treated with lots of chemicals to first bleach it and then dry it in a color of choice. In order for these chemicals to completely leave your clothes, it needs to be washed lots of times. When thrifting ‘new’ clothes, they have been washed several times so most of the chemicals used on the cotton fabric have been washed out and your skin is no longer exposed to these toxins.
Items that are no longer made can often still be found in thrift stores. People often donate stuff they don’t know the value of. Especially when it comes to items that are no longer made. So when shopping second hand you can often find unique items that are no longer made for a bargain price.
Clothes are broken in
When purchasing new jeans, it often takes a few wears for them to be completely broken in. Once it is broken in it often is a little wider than what it initially was and might even be too big. Other clothes might shrink when you wash them and they end up too small.
When you go for second hand clothing, you purchase clothes that are already broken in. This means that way they fit when you try them on will be the same fit as after a couple of wears as the material of the clothing is already broken in.
Vintage designer clothes
This one is not really for me but I know lots of people are into designer vintage clothes. When thrifting regularly, you will be the first to find these unique real vintages designer items that others donated to thrift stores. This way you have access to real vintage clothes (not the knock-offs that are currently sold in lots of places) that were still made to last a lifetime for rather cheap.
Furnish your home on a budget
When buying your first home, or moving into your first apartment, you often don’t have a big budget to furnish your home with new furniture. In secondhand stores, you can find lots of furniture for bargain prices so you will be able to furnish your entire new how on a budget.
Another reason for thrift shopping is when you are looking for gifts for friends or loved ones. As mentioned before, you can often find unique and vintage items that are no longer made that make an awesome gift.
However, first, check with the one receiving the gift if they are ok with a second hand gift.
The thrill of the hunt
I am a sucker for this one. Lots of stuff is donated to second hand shops each day and lots of people buy from a thrift store. For this reason, the rotation cycle of items is very high. So each time you visit (I try to visit my local second-hand shop every 2 to 3 weeks), it is full of ‘new’ stuff. I really enjoy the excitement of not knowing what treasure I might find.
Keeping the money local
My local second-hand shop is run by volunteers and all the profit they make is donated to local charities which is a great benefit of my local thrift store. This keeps the money local (instead of spending at big clothing brands that are located abroad) and helps local small business owners.
The smaller kids are, the faster they grow. This is the main reason why I almost never purchase new clothes for my kids. Babies often grow into a new size within a couple of months making it incredibly wasteful (and costly) to purchase new clothes every they need it.
Almost all my kid's toys are second hand. Sometimes kids can enjoy a toy for 5 minutes and they are done with it. Buying second hand can be a great solution. What I do is, I put all the toys she is no longer into in a box and donate them about every other month or so. Then we go to the second-hand shop and search for a few new toys she can play with for a couple of months. I love this cycle as she get something ‘new’ to keep her entertained and it saves me lots of money because I don’t have to buy new toys.
Example for kids
Caring about the environment is important to me so I want to teach my daughter the importance as well. Therefore we often visit a thrift store together and we also go through her stuff to see what can be donated. In this case, I ask her; ‘Are you still playing with this or can other kids play with this?’ She then can just tell me what is no longer plays with and what is ok to donate. This way I show her that her toys can have a second life which is a great start for teaching my girl about caring for the environment.
Trip to memory lane
Visiting a thrift store I sometimes do just to browse around while not looking for anything in particular. I just enjoy the memories of what some of the items I see bring me as often you can find things that are over ten and sometimes twenties years old reminding you of your childhood.
This is the reason I go to the second-hand shops. I look for fabrics that I can turn into something new. I have a zero waste shop and I always try to have one or two items that are upcycled. The fabric might be curtains or bedsheets, as long as it is 100% cotton I can turn it into something useful.
The production of clothes requires a lot of water and chemicals. The production of a pair of jeans could require over 7.500 liters of water (2.000 gallons). This amount is shocking and I did not even mention packing and transportation. And then some jeans might even directly end up in landfills because they were not sold. This makes me so sad. Good quality clothing can last you years and if you are not into it anymore while it is still in good condition, donate it to a thrift store. You’ll make someone happy with it and it doesn’t end up affecting the environment.
Stop exploitation of third world countries
Many of our clothes are produced in third world countries. These people often have to produce clothing for more than 12 hours a day while earning very little. This is often only enough to give their families some food. In the meantime in western countries, we buy and throw away clothing like it is nothing. Buying second hand will not directly change their working conditions. However, it may help the industry to rethink its strategy. We as consumers have the power and we determine how the industries work. As soon as we change our habits, the industries will have to change too. Once the demand for new clothing from countries such as Bangladesh and India decreases, they too will be forced to change and work on their strategies.
You make a statement
As mentioned before, by choosing second hand clothing you choose to make a statement by not taking part in the fast fashion industry. That you refuse to contribute to large cooperations making money over the back of employers who work in poor conditions with little pay.
You also make a statement that you care about the environment as the clothing industry is not only using up lots of water, it is also very polluting due to the high pesticide use for cotton production and for all the chemicals used in dyeing the clothes.
These are several reasons why second hand shops are great whether you want to save money, are looking for a new treasure, or want to help the environment (or all the above) while helping your local community.