Green Manolo » Green Shopping: Thrifting Is Where It’s At

Green Shopping: Thrifting Is Where It’s At

By Christa

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?

7 Responses to “Green Shopping: Thrifting Is Where It’s At”

  1. theDiva Says:

    LOVE thrifting. Love. It appeals to my inner cheapskate. Thanks to a fabulous thrift store a mere two miles from my house, I have amassed an enviable collection of old school Coach bags. Also, cashmere sweaters, an Hermes scarf, a mountain of books, and an authentic U.S. Embassy – Riyadh shot glass.

  2. LeighB in ATL Says:

    Seasoned thrifter/yard saler/lover of other people’s stuff here. Most of my daughter’s clothes come from my local thrift stores and she dresses very well! Plus, I love feeling virtuous about my consumption and saving money at the same time.

  3. Phyllis Says:

    My teenage daughters go one step fruther and like to de-construct and/or refashion used clothing. Sometimes a sewing machine is used but not always. There are tones of books anw web sitese devoted to it.

  4. Christa Says:

    @theDiva Sounds like you have one heck of a thrift store nearby! My closest isn’t so great for clothes but is pretty good for furniture. There are a couple of upscale consignment shops that benefit local causes, but they’re too pricey for not the best stuff. It’s kind of a bummer.

    @LeighB I’m hoping my daughter feels similarly when she gets older – I know some girls get obsessed with having new gear at a certain age!

    @Phyllis That’s fantastic! If I had a serger, I’d be tearing apart old t-shirts and things left and right. Er, also if I had more time. I love the idea of repurposing something old into something new.

  5. cadpig Says:

    In my youth I used to go to secondhand stores and consignment stores for clothes but for furniture??? NEVER! One word… bedbugs!

  6. monkeyparts Says:

    I live in a city with a ton of thrift and consignment shops, lucky me. I get at least half of my clothes (all of my “nice” work clothes) from them because quality and price is so much better.

    My favorite score to date is a pair of $300 Marc Jacobs shoes that I lusted after online for a year and could not afford … showed up in perfect condition in my size at the whopping price of twenty bucks. Another twenty to have the local cobbler put city-friendly rubber soles on over the the leather, and I feel like a model when I wear them.

    However, I do spend plenty of time in thrift stores when I don’t find anything – and in 20 years of thrift shopping, that’s by far the best deal I got … so you have to enjoy the idea and the search. And be happy with the $30 shirt you can pick up for $5.

  7. Christa Says:

    @cadpig I’ve never gotten a couch or a mattress at a consignment shop, but I never had a problem buying something like a dresser or rocking chair. Apparently I was wrong about that, though – bed bugs like to hunker down in crevasses in wood. That said, I still feel pretty safe buying secondhand furniture in non-urban areas where bed bugs seem to be less of a problem. One word of caution: Bed bugs can totally hitch a ride in clothing, eek!

    @monkeyparts Indeed – the people with the best luck thrifting seem to be the ones who really enjoy the hunt. There are a couple of furniture fix up blogs out there written by people who hit the thrift shops every single weekend and they find amazing things.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
Copyright © 2004-2009; Manolo the Shoeblogger, All Rights Reserved

  • Recent Comments: