Thrift Shopping for Dummies

For college students, thrifting is the ideal way to shop. Not only is it sustainable, it’s also cheap compared to buying new clothes.



"Almost every item of clothing that I wear is thrifted, and I love it. I love getting compliments on something unique that I found after sifting through hundreds of random items – and it feels so good to show others that you can find cute clothes while also being sustainable!"


The textile industry is the second most polluting industry (after animal agriculture) and accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. Additionally, the use of microplastics and toxic chemicals in the production of fast fashion pollutes waterways. This has a huge environmental impact when we consider that the worldwide production and consumption of textile has doubled in the last 15 years – collectively, we consume more than 80 billion articles of clothing.


So, in order to reduce our environmental impact, we should all make an effort to move to a more closed loop model of consumption and become conscientious about where our clothes are coming from!


Where can I thrift?

  • Goodwill and Salvation Army are both great places to find super cheap second-hand items

  • Buffalo Exchange/Jupyter Closet/Plato’s closet: These can be a bit pricier but are more curated, so it takes less time to find nice items

  • Depop & Poshmark: These apps make it super easy to search for something specific and contact the seller directly

  • Trade with friends!

  • Hand-me-downs from parents and siblings are always fun as well! (You’d be surprised how much of what our parents wore is now trendy again)


Okay, but why is thrifting so great?

  • Find your personal brand: Thrifting allows you to develop your own style created from unique pieces of clothing. The items you find in thrift stores are more individualized – there’s only one and you are unlikely to find someone else wearing the same thing as you

  • Size don’t matter!: The brand name and size on the label don’t matter in thrift stores as sizing varies widely between brands. Sizes become irrelevant, you just try something on and if it fits, great!

  • Cheap: Thrifting saves a LOT of money. Many thrift stores sell items for a fraction of their original cost (a couple of dollars), and still in very good quality.

  • Practicing gratitude: When you wear something thrifted, you think about the person who gave up that item of clothing so that you could wear it, and appreciate that there are other people who have similar tastes and are the same size as you!

  • How can I get better at thrifting?

  • Try everything on! You might be surprised how good something will look on you compared to how it looked on the hanger

  • Don’t look at sizes, they are very inconsistent between brands – just hold it up to your body or try it on!

  • Go with friends! Thrifting is a super fun activity to do with your pals – plus, it’s helpful to get a second opinion on items that you’re not sure about!

  • Looking for something specific? Search on thrifting apps to find gently-used versions of something specific you’ve been wanting, whether it be a type of item or brand.

  • Look for the potential: Most clothing items can be altered in some way. Jackets and tops can be cut, jeans can become shorts, pants can have their waist tightened. Items suddenly become a lot more versatile and easy to experiment with when you don’t spend so much money on them!

  • Decorations: You can find used furniture and decorations in most thrift stores to decorate your new living space for a very good price!

The Bottom Line: Thrifting is good for the soul, the wallet, and the planet. Next time you have an urge to update your closet, check out your local thrift stores first – you might be surprised by what you find!



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