Green fashion and green furniture and green *everything else* assault us from all sides nowadays, reminding us that the stuff we already have is probably not as green as we’d like it to be. Are my shirts made from organic cotton? Is my couch still off-gassing? Should I replace my reusable shopping bags with something more eco-friendly? Do I need to start making my own green window cleaner?
Maybe yes, maybe no. It sure is easy and it sure does feel good to say out with the old and in with the new when thinking about the health of the planet. And thanks to the fact that the green movement has money behind it, finding that earth-friendly couch is not a problem these days. But that brings up an important question: How green is buying new, anyway? Especially when it’s something that you maybe don’t need so much as want or what you really want is the pleasure of shopping for and having something new.
In that case, may I recommend thifting? Sure, you may not find that perfect organic cotton t-shirt, but you may find a perfect old t-shirt whose impact on the environment is minimal at this point in its life. You may not find that perfect piece of sustainably-grown bamboo furniture, but you could just score an amazing piece of vintage design that would be out of your price range in an actual antique store. On top of that, there’s that record you remember from the summer you were eight and just starting to notice boys, a cool set of retro salt and pepper shakers, and ‘ohmigosh, I haven’t seen one of those in years!’
What’s so great about secondhand stuff?
First, how about the fact that no energy was used to create it? It’s already there and depending on how old it is, it’s been around for a good long time. Second, you get more bang for your buck, especially where clothing and furniture is concerned. In stores, I can pretty much afford Target-level gear unless I’m saving up for something specific. In thrift stores, I stalk designer handbags and quality mcm furnishings, knowing I can have them if I want them. Third, you’re saving something from a landfill – for most people who give to thrift stores, the options were donate it or dump it. And fourth, by shopping at a shift store you may be supporting a good cause without having to do anything other than shop.
Of course, every point except for point four also holds true for fancy consignment shops, antique boutiques, resale chains, and even tag sales. But maybe thrifting is your green threshold because you’re worried about other people’s ick? Think of it this way: Everything is laundered and cleaned, and you can always bring that item home and launder or clean it again. Problem solved.
Are you a seasoned thrifter, or are you one of folks for whom thrifting falls outside your green threshold?