The increasing popularity of thrift shopping

The method of shopping that was once meant to assist less fortunate shoppers is a growing trend

Steve Morgan/Wikimedia Commons

Within the past few years, thrift shopping, or thrifting, has increasingly gained popularity amongst those who were never really meant to go to the thrift store in the first place. Middle class and wealthy shoppers have begun to partake in thrift shopping for its trendy appeal and wide variety of fashions. There are even shopping applications explicitly created for the reselling of thrifted clothing, such as Depop. Sellers on this app will buy thrift clothing at a low price, and significantly up-charge said items for profit.

However, is this necessarily a bad thing? The myriad of environmental and economic benefits that thrift shopping provides heavily justifies the move away from fast fashion and department store shopping. Why shouldn’t shoppers make a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint by not contributing to the further production of cheaply made clothing?

Fast fashion, or the system in which clothing is mass-produced and in turn, poorly made, accounts for one of the world’s largest polluters. According to The University of Queensland, the environmental damage that fast fashion imposes is comparable to that of oil, as consumers cyclically buy and throw out clothing now more than ever.

And why shouldn’t shoppers boycott the unethical labor processes that companies such as Forever 21 and SHEIN administer? Many of these companies utilize unregulated child labor or other immoral practices as an economical means of producing clothing.

If you are looking to support companies that are completely honest about their production policies, the online tool Good On You provides a comprehensive history of hundreds of brands, ranking their environmental and moral impacts. However, many of the ideal brands are highly expensive to maintain production methods that cost significantly more money as opposed to fast fashion.

It only seems reasonable to choose thrift shopping, a method that resells already made clothing, reducing both the amount of waste and preventing further demand for unethical labor.

I took to Twitter to ask a wide variety of people about whether or not they thrift shop, and what their reasoning behind this choice is.

Most of the responses I received included the reduction of a carbon footprint. “1) [It’s] good for the environment. 2) [It’s] good for my wallet. 3) It’s nice to not look like everyone else and find one of a kind items.” Vic, @momjeandream said. “Every piece is special, and I like to think of the past owners who had the clothes before me,” Brett, @crayolawombat said.

Several responses related to the cost of thrift shopping, which is significantly cheaper than buying department store clothing. Because thrift stores are typically oriented towards lower-income buyers, clothing is sold at a much lower price, which does not equate to lower quality.

I prefer thrift shopping. Although I occasionally purchase singular items from department stores, I mostly stick to thrift shopping. While I believe the ethical benefits are reason enough to thrift, I also find it much easier to craft a uniquely quirky style by thrifting.

Thrift stores offer many fashions suitable for all buyers, so there’s an option for every kind of buyer. It’s just a small way in which you can further take care of the world and those who inhabit it.