How Thrifting Is Good for the Planet

Posted on March 20, 2020

There’s something wonderful about heading to a thrift store and finding a unique piece of clothing that fits your style perfectly. The “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” saying is quite truthful. Now more than ever, people are donating clothing, home goods, electronics, and other objects that are in terrific condition. Whether they’re clearing out clutter or making room for more stuff, this propensity to buy and buy has made thrifting an even more rewarding habit for your wallet. But apart from the personal advantages of shopping secondhand, thrifting is a great benefit for the environment. Put the “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan into even better practice—donate more and thrift often! Learn more about how thrifting is good for the planet below.

Keeps Clothes Out of Landfills

Think back to that reduce, reuse, recycle slogan we’ve all been taught since elementary school. When we were first taught this, it typically had to deal with plastics and paper. Many people don’t realize that recycling incorporates more than the typical plastics and includes textile recycling as well. Just because you’re not putting your clothes in the blue bin and leaving them at the edge of the road doesn’t mean thrifting is not an important form of recycling. One of thrifting’s biggest advantages for the planet is that it keeps clothes out of landfills. People now more than ever are recognizing that the clothes they no longer want will make much more of an impact when donated and brought to thrift stores, rather than tossed in the garbage. When clothes are thrown away, they sit in landfills for hundreds of years. Especially now that a lot of clothing is made out of synthetic material that won’t degrade, these clothes tossed into landfills take up a vast amount of space and contribute to the greenhouse gases plaguing our planet. Even clothes made out of organic materials won’t biodegrade properly in landfills and will output methane gas. When people donate clothes and shop secondhand, they’re playing a great role in keeping clothes out of landfills.

Contributes to Charities

Shopping secondhand also plays a role in boosting community development. Your money is typically used to help local charities and businesses, rather than multinational corporations that take advantage of the planet. Better yet, these charities that the stores benefit will often help out community members in need or strive to help the planet. Think about it this way—when you shop secondhand, you’re supporting a business that strives to help others. When we’re helping others, we’re helping the environment in some way as well. This contribution to charities can take the form of assisting those in need in the community and can help an organization that’s planting more trees or supporting third-world countries and their water sources.

Lowers Your Carbon Footprint

Another significant way thrifting is good for the planet is that it lowers your carbon footprint. This is another one of those phrases we were taught young—carbon footprint. We often think that the only way we can do this is by biking to work instead of driving or by reducing our shower time. Though these are wonderful ways, thrifting is one of those steps to reducing our carbon footprint that doesn’t take much effort. All it asks is that you head to a thrift store rather than engage in online or fast-fashion shopping! We mention fast fashion because now more than ever, a ton of energy goes into clothing manufacturing. The whole process—transportation of raw materials to the production processes and shipping to stores—takes up a plethora of energy and time. The fashion industry is moving faster than ever, creating millions of clothing items every day to fill up the stores every week. When you buy secondhand, you’re preventing that massive waste of energy and resources on the production of new clothes. Thrifting is an easy way to make a difference in your own carbon footprint and take the small steps to lower the world's.

Helps Preserve Water

In a similar sense, thrifting helps preserve water. Like we’ve mentioned, clothing production is a process that takes up a lot of time and energy; it also uses a lot of water—water that we need dearly and are slowly running low on. Water consumption is extremely high in every single stage of clothing production. Take a cotton T-shirt, for example. When made unsustainably, even simply growing one kilogram of cotton requires at least 10,000 liters of water. That’s just the beginning of the production process. There’s wet processing and printing, packaging and transportation processes—all these steps add to the overall water consumption. When you shop secondhand, you’re playing a part in preserving water. As we’ve stated, textile recycling is a part of the whole “reduce, reuse, recycle” mentality, and water preservation is just as important as that. When you recycle clothing—either donating or buying secondhand—you’re preserving water. It’s just as important as driving less, eating green, and shutting off the faucet while you brush your teeth.

Reduces Chemical Pollution

Another great way that thrifting helps the planet is that it reduces the chemical pollution induced by creating and buying new clothes. Let’s think back to cotton—the production of cotton not only uses tons of water, but it’s also highly pesticide intensive. This means that when cotton is produced and manufactured, it causes soil acidification and water contamination. And this is from material that many people consider sustainable. In general, textile-manufacturing processes involve the use of harmful dyes and crude oil by-products. The process of creating and shipping new clothes contaminates surface and groundwater, pollutes the air, and so much more. Shopping secondhand begins to eliminate the constant chemical pollution that results from clothing production. In general, when we take the time to shop the clothes that are readily available to us in secondhand and thrift stores, we’re not only finding those unique products that match our beautiful personalities, but we’re helping the planet as well. There are so many wonderful benefits of thrift shopping, and when we take the time to visit and shop these special places, we’ll get to reap those rewards. The next time you’re looking for something special, turn to a 2nd Avenue Thrift Store, one of the best thrifting opportunities in Philadelphia. We’ll make sure you find those pieces you’ve been dreaming of and benefit the planet in the process!