Thrift shopping is buying second hand clothes at greatly reduced prices. There didn’t used to be much variety among thrift stores, but thrifting has become much more mainstream and popular, which is great because it has so many benefits.
First, thrifting reduces pressure on resources and the pollution associated with clothing production. The greatest positive environmental impact that thrift shopping accomplishes is that it significantly extends the lives of garments. Extending the lifespan of a garment by a only a few months could lead to a 5-10% reduction in the carbon, water, and waste footprints of that item. It also decreases the production of new garments, which reduces greenhouse emissions, resource consumption, and chemical pollution. The transportation costs of second-hand clothing is much less than new clothes, because it is usually from the same community it is being sold in versus being internationally transported.
And, for your wallet, it is much cheaper! You might find a $50 sweater for $10, or a $30 shirt for $3. It may take a little more work to find what you are looking for, but when you do find it, it will be worth it!
Not all thrift shopping is the same, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. A great way to see what is available in your area is going with a couple of friends to multiple thrift stores to find the best deals. There are some stores like Goodwill where all items are donated, not washed, and not organized on the rack. Benefits of this type of store is that their clothes tend to be very cheap and you can find great items of clothing with a little more effort than needed at a department store.
There are others stores like Plato’s Closet, where they buy clothes from people, wash them, and organize them on the rack. The clothes at this type of store are generally a bit more expensive, though still much cheaper than buying them new.
There are also websites where people go to thrift stores for you, then sell you those clothes at a higher price. Whatever type of thrift store you go to, they are all cheaper than buying new clothes and much better for the environment.
However, it is important to note that only a small portion of clothing is sold second-hand; the majority of clothing is worn once and then thrown away. Thrifting can mitigate some of the effects of fast fashion, but it does not shift the market away from its unsustainable fashion practices.