I remember the first time I strolled through a secondhand store. As a high school student on a budget, I was shopping for an outfit for the dance. An outfit that was, if not new, at least new to me. What can I say? I was in heaven. It was so easy to shop there. This love affair with thrift stores has continued over the years. After all, who among us doesn't want to save money where she can? It was years later that I considered the many other benefits--environmental, social as well as personal—of shopping secondhand.
Let's first take a look at the environmental impact -
- The use of recycled, gently used goods reduces waste and pollution.
- It takes a lot of energy to produce materials, which can result in by-products like harmful chemicals and toxic gases.
- Giving new purpose to previously used goods also removes the transportation costs involved in getting these products to market.
- Landfills are topped off more slowly if that old couch and that unopened deep fryer gets recycled—or rather, reused—instead of discarded in a bin or placed curbside.
As for supporting our social responsibility -
- Some thrift shops, like the ReStore and Mission Mart, also operate as a charity that offers financial support for services to the unemployed, homeless, disabled, etc.
- Thrifting is free of corporate ties that might involve nebulous suppliers, unsafe factories and production chains, or issues with workers being underage or not being paid a fair wage.
- You can shop with a clear conscience at places like the ReStore because you know your hard-earned dollars are going to a good cause (not to mention will get stretched much farther than chain retail stores).
And finally, there's the personal impact -
- Thrifting positively impacts our financial wellbeing by offering goods at cheaper prices.
- Secondhand stores often offer older, but comparatively higher quality goods than are currently available. This means you can buy less often because your purchase will last longer.
- Savvy shoppers may find unique, one-of-a-kind, or vintage items that spark ideas for creative design. Plus, the ReStore and other thrift shops are perfect for finding fixer-uppers and DIY project materials.
Thrift stores are cool places to stroll through when you have some time to kill, when you'd rather purchase used than new, or if you're just looking for inspiration. You not only save money, but you also get to be a steward of environmental protection and social responsibility. If you choose to shop at the ReStore, you even get to help build homes with local families, just by going shopping.
By CeeCee Claire, volunteer writer