14 Sustainable Thrift Shopping Tips & Tricks

This year, 10 million tons of American clothes will go to landfill, and 3 million tons of clothes will be burned.

The tragedy? Most of this is unnecessary. 

thrift shopping

The fashion industry has taught us to lead a disposable lifestyle but most clothes could have another life (and probably several other lives) before being discarded.

The good news? More and more Americans are turning to thrift shopping, not only does it keep money in their pockets and not the fashion industry’s but it helps reduce the waste created too.

But how do you get the most out of thrift shopping? 

Here are our tips to get you started!


The 14 Best Thrift Shopping Tips

These tips should help you cut down on clothing waste whether you’re shopping at thrift stores or at clothing swaps and ensure you have fun too!

  • Wear comfy shoes. You can spend a long time browsing in thrift stores to discover the perfect item, make sure your feet won’t hurt. 
  • Decide what you need before you go. The first time thrift shopper always comes home with tons of “bargains” most of which won’t get worn. If you decide what you want before you go, you’ll be better equipped to resist temptation.
  • Set a budget. You can spend more thrifting than you normally would in a mall – it’s best to set a budget and stick to it. 
  • Keep your mind and eyes open. You may find a lot of absolute junk but if you stay focused, you will find some ultimate bargains too. The author spent $10 on a $2,000 bespoke tailored coat in a thrift store. 
  • Inspect each item before you buy. Some things are repairable, others are not. Find the flaws and decide whether or not they are deal breakers. 
  • Make sure to turn everything inside out. Yes, some flaws can only be found inside the garment. 
thrift clothing
  • Give the item a sniff. Some will smell of dust or mothballs; that’s no biggie, wash the item and it will be fine. But if it smells awful, leave it alone.
  • Go early. Most thrift stores put out all the new stuff late at night and then it’s on the shelves early in the day. If you get there early, you’re more likely to find the best stuff.
  • Only buy things you intend to wear. Thrift stores are awesome and it’s tempting to fill your wardrobe with things you don’t need but that stops somebody else from actually wearing an item and ensuring it gets used. Buy what you will wear and avoid overconsumption.
  • Support stores that are in keeping with your values. There are dozens of thrift stores out there, pick a chain or boutique that aligns with your personal values. 
  • Try not to purchase “high-need” items. These are items that are super important for people with very low financial resources (such as kid’s clothes and workwear) and it’s best to leave them alone. Unless, of course, you have low financial resources too, then grab them. 🙂 
  • There are often no dressing rooms. So, dress to change in the store if you want to try your potential purchases on. 
  • Don’t forget to take any old clothes you don’t need with you. The store may buy them from you or give you a credit and even if they don’t, you are making sure that your old clothes get a new lease of life. 
  • Take a bag. Seriously, don’t spoil it by ending the day carrying your purchases home in a giant plastic sack. 

Final Thoughts On Thrift Shopping Tips

We confess that we’re thrift store addicts and we think there are enough thrift shopping tips here to get you started. 

If you’ve got any tips of your own, we’d love to hear from you. 

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