I’ve always loved thrifting. It’s more than just the thrill of the hunt. For a long time, it was (and still is) the way I was able to afford nice clothing at a fraction of the price. Even now I still prefer thrifting over conventional mall shopping.
Let me tell you why I think thrifting is better:
1.) You stand out.
I love thrifting because it allows you to look your best while having a piece of clothing that no one else (probably) has. 85% of my closet is thrifted and 99% of my favorite outfits include at least one thrifted piece! Fast fashion hyper-produces the clothing nowadays meaning that if you shop at H&M, Zara, or Forever 21 you’re very likely to end up matching with someone in your circle and thousands of people across the U.S. Thrifting often means that you end up with a piece of clothing that is no longer fast fashion but is in style because trends are constantly making a comeback. Instead of matching with thousands of people you have a unique style that you can mix and match with current pieces and create your own vision.
2.) You help the environment!
We already talked about how dirty fast fashion is and one of the best ways to avoid this polluting industry is to buy clothing, accessories, even furniture secondhand. By shopping second-hand we are pulling something out of the waste stream that was probably going to end up in a landfill or shipped off to a low-income country disguised as “charity”. Not only are you avoiding landfill waste but you are also pulling your money out of the polluting fast fashion industry thus “voting” against the unfair labor practices and environmental hazards often involved.
3.) You do good while shopping.
Local thrift stores are often associated with a charitable organization. You can feel good about shopping at local thrift stores because they are often associated with a non-profit that helps the community directly. My favorite thrift store helps support the foster youth community while another of my favorites helps support an organizational network to meet local community needs. So you’re “voting” towards a system with a back-end that is (usually) tied to social good.
4.) You save a ton of money!
Now this can get you in a bit of trouble because buying more always = spending more. So if you do go thrifting try and only buy what you need. With that said, you’ll often save big bucks at a thrift store! Most items are heavily discounted at less than 75% of their original price, and even new clothes with tags are low-cost. Low-cost means something different to everyone, and I usually am not willing to pay more than $5 for a thrifted item…unless I Ecosia-ed it and found it was worth much more. Three of my biggest finds include 1) a Camilla and Marc dress with tags I bought for $15, later finding it was worth upwards of $400 USD 2) another Camilla and Marc dress with tags I bought for $15 worth nearly $300 USD, and 3) a Maison Scotch jacket I bought for $12 worth over $200 USD.
So many people think the vegan lifestyle has to be expensive. The answer is, it could be! Our choices and accessibility to choices can dictate whether our lifestyle is costly or not, but while you thrift, just keep the same ideal in mind: no animal products.
I’ve met some vegans who purchase leather or wool goods second-hand. I myself have some items of this nature that I purchased before I went vegan and am unwilling to throw away. I choose to let them live out their lives with me until they fall apart and make better choices in the future. Don’t be so eager to let “vegan guilt” get to you that you waste an item that is already in your closet, the most sustainable option is to use it until it’s done.
Don’t know where to start?
Yelp your area for local thrift stores. Here you can find reviews and suggestions, and usually a guide of sale days for that particular thrift store.
Some of my personal favorites:
- @thriftstore_333 Foster Care Auxiliary Thrift in Anaheim
- @relivethrift in Redlands (fill a bag with clothes for $3 the first Monday of every month!)
- @themustardmarket in Fullerton
- Leisure League Thrift in Hesperia
Once you’ve found a thrift store, how do you navigate in the store?
The answer is, it depends. I’m tall (5’10) and medium build so what fits me best are clothes cut for a different era, especially dresses! Dresses made nowadays often fit me very short, and thrifted dresses are almost always cut to be longer so I start with dresses because that’s where I find the most viable options. I then move on to tops, bottoms, accessories, and finally trinkets. I really try to only go thrifting when I’m in need of something so if you’re searching for something specific search in that area first. Remember, a thrift store is not like a mall, once you leave something behind you may never find it again.
When shopping try and avoid:
- Leather, wool, and silk
- Polyester, Lycra (microfibers!) – Read about why in my article on microfiber pollution and laundry!
Need thrifting inspo?
Just search #thrifted on Insta and follow these accounts:
- @lathriftingvegana aka ME
Karla is SoCal born & bred, with family roots in Guerrero and Puebla, Mexico. She is currently pursuing an MPH in Global Health and considers herself a lifelong learner. Her favorite ways to invest her days are sunshine, nature, fun with her husband, picking up a good book & eating her way through all vegan foods.