If you’re like me, then one of your all-time favorite activities is shopping. Whether I’m hanging out with a friend or need a pick-me-up after not doing so well on a test, shopping never fails to lift my mood. However, this hobby can get quite expensive for college students when shopping at the mall or big chain stores. That is why thrifting makes for the perfect alternative for students who want to save money and simultaneously help save the planet.
Amidst a time where the fast fashion industry is bigger than ever, it is important to consider the negative environmental impacts we may be contributing to while shopping. Countless brands like Zara, SHEIN, Forever 21 and H&M are constantly mass producing new designs to be sold only in a matter of weeks. Many brands also heavily market to the college-aged demographic through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which leads to even more purchases. This creates an enormous amount of excess clothes that are often part of temporary trends that will eventually end up in landfills.
Additionally, these fast fashion brands are known to outsource to other countries for workers who are not paid well or given proper working conditions. This is primarily because the labor laws of many foriegn countries do not require extensive safety or pay regulations.
According to the United Nations Alliance For Sustainable Fashion, the fast fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating around 20% of the world's wastewater and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually. Plus, there are already so many immense environmental issues in the world to worry about. We should not be contributing to this one when there are clear solutions like thrifting readily available to us right here in the Raleigh area.
In many ways, thrifting creates an entirely unique shopping experience each time you go. Instead of immediately seeing a bundle of the same shirt or pants on a rack, you must take the time to search through the aisles. This makes finding something you like more fun and more rewarding because you quite literally found it yourself among hundreds of distinct clothes.
Another advantage to thrift shopping is that you can easily find vintage clothing that has recently come back into style. Also, if you’re interested in taking on creative revamping clothing projects, the thrift store is the best place to find pieces that you can craft into cute modern outfits.
Finally, what’s better than being able to afford expensive brands and high quality items? Especially at a Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF), you can count on finding plenty of pieces under $10.
If you prefer online shopping, websites such as Poshmark and thredUP are great thrift stores to explore. You can also make money selling your own unwanted items. Personally, I have sold many clothes, shoes and jewelry via Poshmark in the past and made decent money off items that had been sitting in my closet for years. This is also the ideal time to update your wardrobe as we move from Zoom classes to an in-person semester this fall.
All of this is not to say that you are a terrible person if you don’t exclusively shop at thrift stores, but it is to encourage you to do so when you can and shop more consciously in general. For example, if you usually shop at fast-fashion stores, simply try to shop for pieces that will either serve as a staple in your closet or that you believe you will get a lot of use out of.
Lastly, always try to sell or donate your unwanted clothes to local consignment shops near campus like Uptown Cheapskate, Plato’s Closet or GCF. From there, you can shop for new items after you’re done and feel proud that you are making a difference as a sustainable shopper.