Top 10 thrifting tips for a greener shopping experience

By Jordan Puyear |

Forget relying on your family members’ hand-me-downs–thrift shopping is your new go-to when it comes to finding the most unique and individualistic pieces.

It was Lauren Singer, the writer for “Trash is for Tossers,” a blog about living a zero-waste lifestyle who inspired me to try and make less of an environmental impact through reducing the amount of garbage I produce. While I am not 100 percent zero-waste, and not even close, I firmly focus on reducing, recycling, and specifically reusing in order to get closer to my zero-waste goal.

According to Singer, 25 billion pounds of clothing waste are discarded into the U.S. landfills every year. The first step in my zero-waste journey started in my closet. While I got rid of more than half of my wardrobe, I found myself in need of new essentials, so the zero-waste solution was the thrift store. Every piece of clothing purchased second-hand means that one less new product had to use resources to be produced.

Quickly, thrift shopping because my new favorite hobby; I found myself wanting to thrift in any new location I explored. Now, a year later, my closet in around 95 percent thrifted pieces, and I never intend on going back to fast-fashion again. Here are my top 10 tips to get you started on your thrift store awakening:

  1. Donate before you shop. This might seem a little redundant, but your closet will thank you for it later. Take on a more minimalistic point of view and adapt the 30-30 rule: if you haven’t worn it in the last 30 days or don’t plan on wearing it in the next 30 days, you should probably donate it.
  2. Look through every section … including the men’s section. Nothing’s off-limits when it comes to thrifting, every section has a specific piece and every piece has a story. It’s your job to look through every one of those items to find that one item that truly speaks to you.
  3. Go into thrifting with an open mind. Since it is thrifting, it’s probably not going to be similar to walking into a Forever 21 or H&M. Thrift shops don’t revolve around trends, it is up to you to make each piece trendy in your own way.
  4. Be inspired. Before going thrifting, check out Pinterest or some YouTube videos to give you a look in mind that you could be able to recreate with thrifted pieces.
  5. Always check the washing instructions. Even if that sweater is the perfect fit or those pants were exactly what you were looking for, the worst feeling is getting home to find that they are dry clean only. While this can be worked around, it’s more of a hassle, so just take that into account when purchasing thrifted pieces.
  6. Don’t look at the sizing labels. Instead of searching through pieces based on the size, just eyeball it when it comes to thrifting. The number on that label means next to nothing when it comes to thrifting, because every piece is so random in terms of fabric and when it was originally produced. While this probably goes against everything you were taught about shopping, you would be surprised about how right our instincts usually are.
  7. Try everything on, if you can. Once you find a cart full of pieces, wait in that long line for the fitting room. Even though each piece isn’t the most expensive, it would still be a waste to purchase something that would then need to be donated again.
  8. If you don’t find anything, go the next week. One of the best parts about thrift shopping is that there is a new variety almost every week. People are always donating something new, so you will never see the same piece twice.
  9. Only go if you have enough time. This is probably the biggest downfall to thrift shopping, it takes a long time. In order to find a good variety or purchases that you will comfortable with, you have to look every item on every rack. While this might sound a little extreme, thrifting is a hobby so you should treat it as such.
  10. Find a friend who also enjoys thrifting. The one thing that will either make or break you thrifting experience is the company you bring along. If you are lucky enough to find a friend who likes thrifting just as much as you do, you will gain a second opinion on your thrifted choices.
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