Give Old Clothes New Lives by Buying Secondhand

Give Old Clothes New Lives by Buying Secondhand

When I first told my parents I wanted to go thrifting, I was met with revulsion. “Why would you want to wear a dead person’s clothing?” my mom asked. 

Her statement, while extreme, reflected my initial qualms about thrifting. Before I understood the benefits of buying secondhand, I worried about the hygiene of wearing preowned clothing; who knew where these jeans had been before, or who had worn them? 

I’ve since realized that washing machines exist for a reason and thrifting clothes in near-mint condition is not as difficult as it may seem. Moreover, the advantages of buying secondhand have since outweighed my doubts. 

To start, new clothing typically comes at an extreme environmental cost. The fast fashion industry in particular exploits workers, pollutes oceans with plastic and perpetuates wasteful trend cycles, according to the UN Environment Program. Buying a newly made product makes the consumer at least partially culpable for this process of excess.

On the other hand, thrifting is an eco-conscious way to indulge in fashion while avoiding the associated harms of its industry. When consumers buy secondhand, they are simply putting a pre-made and pre-bought product back into use — often at a lower price as well.

Thrifting is also a way to find closet staples that can’t be replicated by fast fashion companies. Today, my wardrobe is defined by the countless clothes I’ve found from buying secondhand, with pieces ranging from hand-knitted cardigans to vintage leather jackets. Even beyond the fact that I simply prefer vintage styles, thrifting ensures that my clothes are, for the most part, unique — an aspect that I find valuable in shaping my personal style.

When I encourage others to thrift, I often hear complaints that there are no “good” thrift stores near them. Although “good” is subjective, I will admit that many thrift stores in the Bay Area are disorganized and overpriced. If you haven’t found a physical store near you that you like, know that e-commerce sites like Depop, Poshmark or eBay (my personal favorite) have made purchasing pre-owned items at affordable prices accessible to all Internet users. I advise individuals inexperienced with thrifting to spend a few hours browsing these sites before forming their final opinions on thrifting. Because even if I may be wearing a dead person’s clothing, I have to admit: they had awfully good taste in fashion.

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About the Contributor
Andrea Li
Andrea Li, Print Editor
  Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4 Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with other people on staff :) Interests outside of school: Reading, writing, cooking Class of 2024

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