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    Thrifting It: Sustainability on a Budget

    by Colleen Ward

    • Denim: $1.00
    • Pearl Vest: $5.00

    These are just some of the items that Jennie Thwaites found on a thrift store trip she wrote about on her slow fashion blog, The Garbage Pile. Jennie seeks out vintage and ethical brands anywhere she can find them and writes about re-styling items to give them new life and style.

    Thrift store shopping may not be a new concept, but it’s something to consider the next time you want to buy or sell your clothes. Buying gently used clothing reduces your environmental footprint and your clothing budget. It also allows you to find unique pieces that are no longer available new.

    We need an antidote to the throw-away, fast fashion mentality that has hijacked the fashion world. The website for “The True Cost,” last year’s blockbuster documentary on the fashion industry’s unseen (by consumers) social and environmental impact, suggests that we consider buying only items we know we’ll wear 30 times or more. In the same way, buying clothing that someone else has already worn extends the life of that item and reduces our personal social and environmental impact.

    Some Thrift Tips:

    1. Find and plan: Review Yelp for thrift stores in your area and try to shop a few that are local. Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Company, and Goodwill are popular national stores. Try Google as well – other great thrift shops might be close by.
    2. Shop in advance: Looking around before you need an item will allow you to find a closer match for what you’re looking for.
    3. Check for quality: Most thrift stores don’t allow returns or refunds, so unless you’re a whiz with a sewing machine or a stain stick, pay attention to such details as split seams, missing buttons, stuck zippers or discoloration.
    4. Buy only what you love: Incredibly low prices can be tempting, but think about how often you’ll wear the item.
    5. Host your own clothing swap with friends or check out local swaps in your area.
    6. Sell your own clothes and shop online: In addition to consignment stores, online shops that offer some consignment clothing for buying and trading include ThredUP, Tradesy, The RealReal, and Poshmark.

    Don’t believe this is a style trend with staying power? No less a fashion icon than Eileen Fisher sells her brand’s previously owned clothing at discount prices, and offers sewing and DIY classes, at Green Eileen. The home page proclaims, “Your purchase of gently worn Eileen Fisher clothing helps reduce your environmental impact and supports programs that enhance the lives of women and girls. Thank you for joining our cause.”

    For a somewhat different, but interesting approach to reusing clothes, take a look at Le Tote, which is best described as the Netflix of clothing. Its home page describes how it works this way: “Get 3 garments and 2 accessories delivered to your door – unlimited times each month. Wear everything. Send it back. Receive your next set of options days later!” A 12-month subscription costs $531 – shorter subscriptions are also available.

    CutandChic is another vintage blogger with lots of tips. She also has her own Etsy shop of finds.

    There are lots of ways to add previously worn clothing to your wardrobe stylishly. In the process you’ll save money and take better care of our world.

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