Thrift Shopping to Save Money, Be Green

Thrift shopping has always made financial sense. But as more and more people closetfocus on ways to shift to a greener lifestyle, thrift shopping is becoming even more popular. Why? Buying clothes can consume a big chunk of your budget – especially if you have kids and teenagers. They’re either ripping everything to shreds, outgrowing everything in a flash, or just getting bored, throwing “out of style” clothes in the trash even though they still have a lot of life left in them.

Even before you start shopping, it’s important to make your clothes last longer. Here’s how:

  • Buy gender-neutral clothes. Young children especially are usually willing to share shorts, t-shirts and sweatshirts, or wear hand-me-downs.
  • Choose styles that will last. Traditional styles like blazers, jackets and sweaters endure and are worth spending more money on. Buy a few items in more trendy styles that can be “recycled” at thrift shops or consignment stores once they go out of style.
  • Hold a swap meet. You may be tired of your clothes, but your neighbor, work colleague, or girlfriend might love them. Invite a group of friends over who are about the same size (or in a couple of close size ranges). Ask each to bring five to ten items they’re ready to rotate out of their wardrobe for something different. Each person could leave with five or more new items that they’ve swapped for their own old clothes.
  • Don’t overwash or over dry. Washing and drying clothes, especially on high heat, will fade colors over time, shrink fabrics, and generally increase wear and tear. Sweaters, pants, dresses and jeans don’t need to be washed nearly as often as socks, underwear and athletic gear.

Make the Most of Thrift Shopping When You Go

Thrift stores come in many shapes and sizes, from a second-hand shop at the local church to a bigger boutique that carries very trendy wear. There are also the huge stores like Value Village that have racks and racks of gently used clothes and shoes for men, women and kids of all ages. Get to know the thrift stores in your community and what they specialize in (if anything).

When she was a teenager, one of my daughter’s favorite boutiques was  a consignment store where she never paid more than $15 for an outfit. She never went shopping there unless she took something from her closet she wanted to trade in. It was her favorite way of recycling.