The art of shopping second-hand

Today’s clothing costs are the highest they’ve ever been. Circ, an organization that focuses on fashion’s effects on the environment, says the average person spends 60% more on clothing compared to 15 years ago. Not only is today’s fashion expensive, it’s more harmful to the environment due to the demand for products. Higher demands leads to less sustainable materials, fast fashion and extra carbon emissions. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, three out of five clothing items end up in landfills and cotton production has caused almost 20% of the world’s water pollution.  

The best way to find affordable and sustainable clothes is by thrifting. The word thrifting refers to the activity of visiting thrift shops hoping to buy unique and vintage items at a low price. According to the Association of Resale Professionals, today’s resale industry is worth billions of dollars and has over around 20,000 shops across the U.S.  

The popularity of buying secondhand items began to spread around the 19th century. These stores were not popular at first and were seen as a place for immigrants to get clothing and other items to become “Americanized.” When religious organizations began thrifting as a way to raise money, the public caught on.  

During the Great Depression and World War II, the demand for used items increased due to people not having the money to buy new clothes and other items. In the 80’s and 90’s, secondhand shopping was seen as a form of rebellion against normality and society, especially during the emergence of the grunge movement. After that, thrifting fell off for a few decades until its re-emergence in popularity in the late 2010s with younger generations. There are many benefits to shopping at thrift stores. For young adults struggling with finances, these are good places to buy affordable clothing.  

The sustainability and environmental factors of thrifting have also been pointed out and proven. The fashion industry uses lots of resources like water and energy to produce their clothing while thrift shops offer a choice for environmentally friendly people for them to get the items they need. Reusing old things also means that fewer items are heading toward the landfill. Thrifting is a great way of reducing the volume of waste produced with the mass amount of clothing being manufactured.  

Re-purposing old items also helps reduce the amount of pollution that is often the byproduct of industries. Cedar Rapids has many thrift shops. 

There are multiple Goodwill stores as well as a bigger building called ‘Goodwill of the Heartland’ less than 10 minutes away from Kirkwood’s main campus. Some other stores near Kirkwood are Salvation Army, Plato’s Closet, Stuff Etc., Treasures Quality Resale, Drop Inn Resale and Vintage Market & Supply Co. 

With the current state the world is in, financially and environmentally, thrifting is the best option to shop. It’s an easy and fun way to shop and anyone can do it. Thrifting has been the past, present and will be the future way of finding affordable fashion.  

Categories: Opinion