As an avid shopaholic (yet also a broke student), I have had to cross the road to stop myself entering shops with beautiful clothes, delete emails from my favourite brands, and put the majority of my money into my savings account so I can’t easily access the money for luxury things. Could charity shops be the way forward for me?
Before I moved to uni, I only went to charity shops for the books, barely giving the clothes a second glance. Yet the prominence of charity shops and my introduction to ‘thrifting’ through youtube as well as my uni’s culture, has shifted my view entirely. Some of the clothes in charity shops are so good! Not only do they have such cheap clothes but a lot of the garbage clothes are sifted out so that only the ‘good’ quality remains behind (though there are the occasional yellow armpits and coffee stains). Of course the clothes are still second-hand but sometimes this can be a good thing!
Clothes and shoes have already been broken into and softened for the next owner. Also, a lot of the clothes that do show wear and tear are easily repairable i.e. if there’s a bit of dirt, wash it off! If the pants are too long, fold the ends! If the waist is too big, sew it to fit better!
Many of the clothes in these shops are pretty unique as well. If you have a ‘quirky’ fashion sense, you’ve probably already seen the wonders of charity shops or you just dish out on designer brands who have piggybacked off this thrifting trend. If you’re going for a night out, a formal, or some other fancy event, a lot of charity shops carry great stuff for much cheaper than the original retail price which can really stretch out your maintenance loans. My housemate even got a game console from a charity shop that works perfectly.
Moving away from the more superficial stuff, charity shopping is great for the environment! When you donate/buy from charity shops, it stops a vast amount of perfectly good clothing from going to landfills and reduces waste generally (e.g. plastic, paper and metal). Your carbon footprint is lowered as it stops the waste of energy and resources on the production of new clothes. It helps water preservation, which is extremely high in clothing production e.g. growing 1kg of cotton requires 5,300 gallons of water – this doesn’t even include the processing and printing of the clothing.
This also doesn’t take into account the manufacturing, packaging and transportation. On top of all that, chemical pollution is a big by-product of cotton farming which includes a lot of pesticide use causing soil acidification and water contamination. Textile manufacturing processes also use harmful dyes and crude oil by-products.
If you read the whole thing, congrats! You’re my favourite person ever! Just kidding, but I do think that thrifting is good in so many ways. It’s cheap, accessible, unique and environmentally friendly. What more could you want?! I do hope I have convinced you that charity shops actually are worth your time. Maybe next time you see one, instead of dismissing it, you’ll give it a chance.