Conscious Living is a series which takes a closer look at living a life full of thoughtful choices and conscious decision making in order to live a life full of meaning, self-love, and respect for ourselves and the world around us
If any of you were in college in the US in the mid 2000s and counted yourself amongst the artsy crowd, I am sure you can relate to what life was like for me back then:
It was the third wave of the indie movement, and I was reading Magnet Magazine, going to gigs in oversized sweaters, leggings, and slouchy 80s boots (I swear every single artsy college girl owned a pair), listening to Tegan and Sara and Metric on repeat while working late in the art studio at night, working on my college Newspaper, and piling into my car on the weekends with my friends so we could hit up the Goodwill in the neighboring town near our college where we would furiously sift through the racks grabbing anything that was pastel colored, had bat-wing sleeves, was made of polyester, and/or came straight out of the 80s. I was also got really into thrifting kitschy homeware in college, and decked my entire room out in thrifted patterns from the 60s.
During winter break, we did much of the same, just in the city, where you could find me complaining about the prices at Beacon’s Closet in comparison to Goodwill with my friends over some of the best goddamned vegan cuisine Brooklyn had to offer in on Bedford Ave right before dashing off to see Gogol Bordello play live at the Bowery ballroom.
But surprisingly, my love affair with Goodwill, Salvation Army, and even Beacon’s closet – despite being the word’s biggest elitist hipster (is that redundant?) store – started ages ago before I had ever even heard of bands like Q and not U or played at my very first open mic.
To be completely honest, I am not exactly sure how I originally got into buying second hand clothing, but it started back in middle school when I was in the 7th grade. Somehow I got it into my head that wearing old T-shirts was my thing.
Back then, I would buy used T-shirts from ebay and crudely DIY them into skirts and dresses and would beg my mom to take me to the Goodwill and Salvation Army on the weekends, where I would fill a shopping basket full of new-used items and buy it all for under 20 bucks. I found awesome tote bags, little league baseball T-shirts, and a Boy Scout shirt that I wore religiously for ages. (Still wondering where that is, because I would definitely like to give it a good wear again.)
And so now, as I reside in the second-hand capital of Europe, only rivalled by London, I find myself falling in love with thrifting all over again – except this time with oversized nordic sweaters and faux fur jackets. Thrifting has always been something I have loved doing for many reasons, 10 if which I would like to share with you guys today here on LFB:
10 Reasons why Thrifting Rocks
1: It’s good for the environment
This is one of the number one reasons for me why I love to thrift. I love the idea of re-using something already worn and turning someone else’s old trash into my new treasure. Not only is re-using the green thing to do, but by buying used, you can also actively choose not to support giant corporations with shady environmental policies and crappy working conditions.
2: You give back to the local community
When you buy second hand, not only are you doing something green, you are also helping your own local community. By shopping at locally-owned thrift stores, you are stimulating the local economy instead of putting your money into the hands of some giant faceless corporation. (Note: Yes, even I am very guilty of shopping at places like Primark and UO, but by supplementing my shopping with thrifted finds, I can at least cut down on the amount of newly manufactured items I purchase and give back to the community at the same time.)
3: You give something a second life
There is no better feeling than finding a new purpose for something old. I love the idea of giving an item back it’s dignity, by making it useful and loved once again.
4: Your clothing has a story to tell
I always find it really interesting to think of who might have worn the items before me. Now I know for some people, this thought is kind of gross, as somebody else has undoubtedly sweated in that very item before you, but hey! That’s what laundry detergent is for! Besides, I think it’s really cool to imagine some homely grandpa chillin’ in a rocking chair with a pipe while wearing the nordic sweater I now own.
5: It’s one-of-a-kind
To be honest, I am not really the kind of person that gets too fussed if I notice someone is wearing the same thing as me. Still, it can be a bit annoying and when I buy a dress at a popular store like UO, I often stop and pause to think if I want to purchase something 20 other girls in the city will inevitably also own. Luckily when you buy second hand, you can avoid this kind of snafu entirely!
Most of what we buy these days is fast fashion and this fast fashion is mass-produced in giant factories using cheap textiles. However, a lot of thrifted finds are older and have stood the test of time. Yes, a lot of stuff you may find can be utter rubbish as well, but there is nothing better than finding those total gems amongst the heap of crap.
7: It’s affordable
If you are on a budget or are looking to save money, you can often find very similar items to what chain stores are selling for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, if you are living in an area where thrifting is quite popular, you might be looking at price tags in the double digits rather than the single digits. Still, I am definitely more inclined to pay 30 for something used than twice as much for it’s contemporary high street doppelganger, as it is unique, being given a second life, and is often better made.
8: You can support a charitable cause and give back
A lot of thrift stores are run by non-profit organizations or charities. I have also bought second hand items at Churches before. I love the idea of this money going towards these causes. I have also purchased second-hand items at garage sales and it makes me feel good knowing that my money is going directly to another person who can use it for their own personal benefit.
9: You can recycle your own used items
Thrift stores are not only great to shop at, they are also a great way to offload some of your old items and give them second homes. Bonus if you are also able to make a bit of commission off of the items as well! I sold some of my more expensive designer pieces to a consignment shop, and it was so nice to know my items were getting a new home and I was getting a bit of pocket money in exchange.
10: It’s a great way to find hidden treasures
Oftentimes, what you find in one high street shop is virtually identical to what you will find in another. These stores base their inventory on what is trending at the moment. Thrift stores do not. Not only will you find unique pieces, but you will also find a lot of insane and just plain weirdly awesome stuff you can re-purpose. This is especially true for the home good section, where I have found some of the most awesome mugs and cups on earth over the years.
Lastly, thrifting is just fun, plain and simple. And with so many positive reasons to do it, if you haven’t already, you definitely should get crackin’!
Love to thift? Have even more reasons why buying second hand is awesome? Let me know in the comments below!
Photography: Sandro Mosco
Editing: Rae Tashman