The stigma of second hand clothing comes with images of sweat stains and XXL pants and zebra granny panties. While the art of thrift store hunting may not be glamorous, the outcome can look more elegant than expected.
Being blessed with more siblings than I can count on one hand, the small buildings with dirty tiled floors and racks organized only by color seemed like a second home. We ran through each aisle, betting on who could spend the least amount of money. Any item of clothing over seven dollars seemed to be a preposterous request. This lifestyle seemed conventional to me, unaware of malls, department stores and high prices.
High school fell upon me with all of its expectations, fashion labels and strive for popularity. My bank account was never something to brag about, and the green only came from the blood, sweat and tears of listening to screaming children and changing poopy diapers. With little in my pocket, yet a need to fit the mold, thrift store shopping became my way of survival. I scouted those racks, my eyes peeled for the labels. Hollister jacket for five dollars? Perfect. Steve madden shoes for ten? Yes mam. I was a vulture looking for my next meal.
Sure, finding the labels might be more challenging, but the art of the hunt is exhilarating. It is the excitement of finding a diamond amidst the dirt, treasure among broken pottery, True Religion jeans in the middle of 1980’s jeans that my mom wore when she was pregnant with me.
Thrift stores single-handedly preserved me through high school, but their contribution to the earth goes beyond my 16-year-old year old wallet and wardrobe. Second-hand shopping is the ultimate form of recycling. The absence of this industry would cause the excess clothing to be put to rest in our landfills. Perfectly good and beautiful Citizen of Humanity jeans that do not fit their owner any longer would be put to rot under out feet, I cannot think of a greater tragedy.
Refusing to spend a pretty penny at a department store decreases the demand, declining the need for new resources to be used. Why create more when we already have enough?
The trend of second-hand shopping is not just for teens with low paying jobs. According to the America’s Research Group, 16-18 percent of Americans will waltz into a thrift store this year and make a purchase. As pocketbooks become tighter and the earth demands us to be friendlier, people of all economic classes have taken as second glance at second-hand shopping.
Like Macklemore says, lets “pop some tags with only twenty dollars in [our] pockets.” For the earth and for our wallets, lets begin to do the right thing.