The Challenges of Thrift Shopping, Are There Other Options?

Racks of clothing:

Recently, I decided to do the “Great Thrifting Challenge” and I found out soon enough that some things really cannot be thrifted (at least for me, I’m not budging). 

While light jackets, sweaters, shirts, skirts, and blouses are great items to thrift–pants, shorts, jeans, any sort of pajama, coats, and leggings are all just impossible for me.

Not to mention that some things give me the heebie-jeebies; leggings are just too close to pajama pants. Nearly all of them have piling and feature the strangest patterns and textures. It is clear why these items were given away.

When it comes down to it, I want to continue thrifting, but a certain percentage of my purchases will be store bought. A part of me is disappointed about this, and another part of me is rather pleased that I can shop the “normal” way, which includes fresh smelling clothes and neat racks of articles. Another option is to shop locally or online at places like Etsy where some items are made of organic cotton or bamboo. There are options.

So while I won’t be completely Earth-friendly, I will have a better quality of life and a much easier time finding things that fit and match my personality. I’m still debating if that sounds too selfish–it certainly could be worse.

Perhaps there is a compromise here. Thrifted items tend to have a shorter lifespan in my closet, which means more purchasing in the long run. This isn’t so bad for the environment, but it certainly is more expensive for me. A high quality item (perhaps sewn by myself or bought online) will last several years. There are, of course, items in the mall or department stores down the road that are a high quality and will last just as long.

If we go back to the classic “reduce, reuse, recycle” we will see the first step is to reduce our consumption of goods. So, if purchasing high quality goods means that you consume less, then perhaps thrifting isn’t the only option for environment-conscious shoppers. The fact is, thrift stores that house these reusable items still consume resources, such as electricity and gas for shipping. So whether you are shopping at a thrift store or purchasing a small number of high quality goods, you are still consuming resources.

Like with many things in life, it isn’t about being perfect, it’s about trying. So however you plan to reduce, reuse, or recycle, you are making a positive impact.

Still feeling guilty? Adopt an acre from The Nature Conservancy.