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August 17 is National Thrift Shop Day. This day brings awareness to supporting local thrift stores, especially those that charitably help people in their communities.
For us, the consumer, there are good reasons to regularly stop by thrift stores, resale shops and charitable organizations’ “closets”. Check out these five benefits of thrift shopping.
The History of Thrift Shops
Thrift shops didn’t always exist. Up until about 100 years ago, people routinely repurposed old clothing. When children outgrew clothes, those garments were handed down to younger siblings. Additionally, old clothes were recut to create new garments. Dad’s shirt might become junior’s shorts. Mom’s dress made a cute miniature version for sis. Eventually, when repurposing an item simply wasn’t possible any longer, those old clothes became rags for cleaning or recycled into furniture stuffing. Nothing went to waste.
Enter the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. Clothing production increased dramatically. Buying new clothes happened more frequently. Old clothing ended up in scrap yards. The Salvation Army and Goodwill changed that story.
In 1897 The Salvation Army launched the “salvage brigade”, sending people out scouring neighborhoods for used clothing, in return for meals and lodging. And in 1902 a Boston Methodist minister founded Goodwill, hiring poor and disabled people to collect used clothing and repair them for resale. Initially these thrift shops provided immigrants with a place to find clothes. Over the years thrifting became popular as people hunted for bargains and treasures.
Five Benefits of Thrift Shopping
Joplin has four thrift shops that provide for others in the community, through the resale of items. Plus, we have consignment shops, such as Plato’s Closet, and charitable “clothing closets” where people who need clothes can shop for free.
Thrifting is fun. Since these shops rely on donations, you never know what treasures or bargains await when entering the store. You might find a collectible, an expensive garment with the original price tag attached, for a fraction of the cost, or the perfect items for a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume. The daring shopper can even create her own unique fashion style.
However, beyond the thrill of the hunt, thrift shopping…also called thrifting…is beneficial. Here are five benefits of thrift shopping that you might be unaware of.
Thrift Shopping Benefits the Environment
Did you know that the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothes, every year? That means that annually, 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in landfills. And they sit there for many, many years.
We live in the age of cheap clothing and fast fashion, resulting in a throwaway mentality. After a season…or even after wearing a garment a couple of times… we toss it.
Thrifting is recycling. By purchased pre-owned clothing over new trends that quickly fade, we shrink our carbon footprint. We use less of the resources that creating new clothing uses up. And we keep items out of landfills. Best of all, when we no longer want a thrift item, we simply donate it to another thrift store so it stays in use.
I love Toad&Co as an eco-friendly clothing company that not only creates durable clothes that last for many years, they encourage the donation of items no longer wanted. They also wash, repair and renew old Toad clothes and keep them in circulation. Shop Renewed Toad.
Thrift Shopping Benefits the Community
Many thrift shops offer benefits to the community. Some hire and train people to work in the shops. Others fund a charity or mission or offer free or low priced clothing to those in need.
When we donate garments or other household items we benefit the community. And when we shop in thrift stores, we benefit the community as well by keeping our dollars local where they can do the most good.
I regularly donate to a ministry that operates a clothing closet. Anyone in need may visit and shop for free. This shop is especially popular when school starts back up.
Thrift Shopping Benefits the Planet
Buying second hand clothing reduces the amount of new clothing produced. Mass production of fast fashion often comes with human risks. The highest risk people are women, children and the impoverished who work long hours in poor working conditions for very low wages.
It’s always important to shop for ethically produced clothing, when purchasing new items. Buying recycled clothing takes ethical practices to the highest level.
Plus, thrifting reduces the chemical pollution in the world. Creating and shipping new clothes contaminates surface and groundwater and pollutes the air.
Thrift Shopping Benefits Your Wallet
Compared to retail clothing stores, thrift stores offer very low prices. Plus thrift shops often have discount days or fill a bag days, dropping prices even lower.
I wandered through my local Goodwill today, just to see what was available for sale. I spied the Disney shirt, for $2.99, a J. Crew dress for $4.99 and an assortment of garments from name brands such as Levi, Lee, Old Navy, Cato and Worthington…all for under $6.00.
I didn’t buy anything today. However I’ve snagged bargains at my local thrift shops. And they are my go to stores when I need a Halloween costume or an item I don’t often use, such as a rain jacket.
For my 62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday, I enjoyed a fun thrifting trip. I took a $20 bill into Goodwill and left with a new to me outfit: slacks, shirt and a unique jacket.
Thrift Shopping Benefits Creativity
Shopping regularly at thrift shops allows us to create one of a kind wardrobes. Who wants to look like everyone else? I don’t.
Buying used clothing not only reduces the production of new items and prevents waste, it allows the purchaser to stand out creatively, fashion wise. It’s a fun challenge to pull together an outfit from a wide assortment of vintage and used clothing.
Some of my favorite wardrobe items came from thrift shops. And I still have them and wear them.
Personally, thrifting also taught me the value of slow fashion and keeping garments out of landfills. In the past, I’ve purchased new clothes for trips. The last few years, not so much. In fact, for my upcoming trip I decided to only shop…out of my OWN closet. I’m putting together new looks, and new outfits, from articles of clothing that I don’t normally pair together. It’s fun and it shows me that truly, I don’t need to purchase a thing. Watch for an upcoming post highlighting my travel outfits.
Making a Difference
One day, a couple of years ago, I sat in my car outside a local clothing closet, after dropping off items. I happened to see a young girl, about eight years old, skip out to the car where her father waited.
She held up a small shopping bag, and proudly proclaimed to her dad that she had everything she needed to start school. I smiled over her genuine excitement…and my heart broke a little.
As they drove away, tears filled my eyes. The father seemed uncomfortable that his daughter picked up her school clothes at a charitable organization and yet he expressed gratitude too, for the help.
I asked, aloud, why I witnessed that interaction. The answer I immediately received was that only that morning, I asked to see compassion displayed in the world. Here was compassion given…to the girl and her father. And here was compassion stirring, in my heart, for the father’s plight and the daughter’s enthusiasm. I’ve continued to donate to that clothing closet, so that other children in need can go to school with something new to wear.
Do you thrift shop? Share with me your favorite shops and finds.
And do you donate the clothing you no longer want, to shops and charitable organizations? It makes a difference, in the world and in someone’s life…like that beautiful girl returning to school.
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