A version of this article was first published on the Eco Anouk blog.
There’s always a bit of a stigma attached to pre-owned items – be it clothing, electronics, or even cars. Everyone wants the ‘brand new’; the novelty factor really keeps our species excited. But did you know that only about 15% of our textile waste gets recycled? However, there are 5 super compelling reasons why you should buy secondhand clothes:
- They’re eco-friendly. Secondhand clothes don’t consume further resources. They’ve been made. To not use them would be such a waste (like wasting food that’s already been cooked.) Besides, you’re helping to reduce the water waste and chemical pollution associated with today’s fashion production methods.
- They’re cheaper. You may find the dress of a lifetime in a designer store – and not be able to afford it. But secondhand clothes, even designer ones, are less expensive than brand new items of the same kind. For obvious reasons.
- They’re longer lasting. When you buy good quality thrifted clothing, the odds are that they will last you a long, long time (with proper care). Until a few years ago, clothes were built to be robust and long-lasting. But with the culture of built-in obsolescence and fast fashion taking over, clothes have, for the most part, become disposable almost. When it comes to artfully crafted vintage clothing (clothes between 20 to 100 years old), the quality is even better.
- You’re helping lessen the load on landfills. We produce 14.3 millions tons of textile waste per year. The average American throws away approximately 65 pounds of clothing and bedding, amounting to almost six percent of all municipal waste (which is 85% of all textile waste). A lot of this is actually in good condition and can be used for much longer, which would be the case is more people bought and sold from thrift stores.
- You’re helping reduce the demand for fast fashion. You’re helping reduce the demand for slave labour and sweatshops. You’re rooting for a fairer world.
Don’t Want to Buy Secondhand?
What’s the one biggest drawback that prevents people from considering secondhand clothes? That’s right: it’s the fact that these clothes have been worn by someone else. By a stranger. I know what you’re thinking (cos I used to think the same thing). “Someone’s worn this outfit, sweated in it, done god-knows-what while wearing it. Why should I wear the same thing?!”
The answer to why you should, of course, is the five points above that I hope you read. But, in addition, let’s clear up this misconception that secondhand clothes are dirty rags that are being sold as valuable items.
Clothes can be cleaned. That’s what we do when we wash our clothes, and they come back from the laundry looking and smelling pristine. In addition, good quality clothes continue to look pristine for much longer than that five dollar t-shirt you bought two months ago that faded and tore after three washes. The clothes being sold at thrift stores have gone through some process of vetting and will go through your vetting before you buy them. If the thrift store is good at what it does, there will be no torn, damaged items on sale. If you keep a sharp lookout, you will not end up buying a damaged item that was accidentally placed on sale. Even if you did, I’m quite sure the store will replace it or take it back.
The point is this: quality checks happen at thrift stores, too. There’s a persistent misconception that only people who cannot afford anything else go to thrift stores, where they are forced to make do with the terrible clothes. If you believe this, please visit a thrift store. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find there☺
Here’s a bonus reason to shop at thrift stores: it’s like a super fun treasure hunt, where you are never sure of what you will discover. These aren’t advertised products, nor are they mass produced items that you can find elsewhere (usually). They can be quirky, gorgeous, sexy, simple, bold, seasonal, ethnic, and usually one-of-a-kind. It can be fun.
List of Online Thrift Stores to Buy and Sell Secondhand Fashion
Not everyone has a thrift shop nearby. And even if you do have one, you may not like the stuff they have on offer. Luckily, it’s the 21st century, and we can shop online.
(WAIT – did I say “luckily”? I meant “unfortunately”, of course. Our online shopping habits are one of the reasons for the excessive consumption of products – and the resulting destruction of the environment. But you, dear reader, are only buying what you absolutely need, right? Keep in mind: this post is information you can use for when you need to buy a new outfit. This is not a call to go out and “shop till you drop”, or whatever the magic phrase du jour is.)
Anyway, so for the next time you find yourself needing to replace an irreparably damaged outfit, here, listed below, are 21 of the best spots online to buy some rad thrifted clothes, accessories, and sundry other items. And it works both ways: if you’re looking to sell some of your old clothes that are in perfect condition, hit these stores up to increase the odds of some other eco-minded woman getting her hands on your beloved outfit.
- ASOS Marketplace
- Beyond Retro | United Kingdom and Sweden
- EcoThrift | Only in California!
- Facebook Marketplace
- Le Prix | Sustainable Pre-Owned Designer Clothing
- Refashioner | Includes designer pieces and vintage items from the private collections of fascinating people from popular culture
- The RealReal
- The Vintage Twin | Only one of each item
- Tradesy | Pre-owned designer wear
- Vanguard Vintage | Canada