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Blue Heron Support Services Association

Monday to Friday: 8:30 to 5:00
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Tel (780) 674-4944

Why thrift? The environmental, local and personal impact of second-hand clothes shopping

Let me start by saying I love Thrift store shopping, I have been a bargain hunter since I began buying my own clothes, and realised that thrift stores are an even better place to do this than the discount racks, or even the discount warehouse (think Winners) type stores. I have thrift shopped as far afield as Reykjavik, Iceland and Aukland, New Zealand but I do love our little Barrhead gem, the New To You, most of all.

Thrifting has become such a way of life for me that I sometimes forget there are people who have yet to realise it’s worth, although that number is getting smaller as thrifting becomes not only more socially acceptable but trendy. So for the small number of you who still need reasons to check out the New To You, and then to broaden your thrift adventures further afield, here are some…

Environmental impact

Re-wearing clothes reduces waste and pollution, to an extent. Although it is true that every garment purchased second-hand means one less new one produced, which is important the production of clothing is costly to the environment. Even transportation-related pollution is decreased when clothing is re-used, as new clothes are much more likely to travel long distances before being sold than are their second-hand counterparts. There is a part of me that dislikes the flip side of the popularity of thrift in that it aids our throwaway habits as it makes them guilt free – which in turn drives the purchase of new items as we can discard our older ones to a re-use market instead of actually throwing them away. But on the whole the reuse, recycle ethic is one that I stand behind wholeheartedly.

Second-hand clothes are less likely to end up in landfills. In order to survive its first wearer in decent enough condition to make it into your hands, there’s a good chance your thrifted item is pretty hardy so every item that doesn’t break/rip/unravel once you take it home means one less item in your trashcan.

Local impact

Many thrift stores directly support charity. Especially, those independent ones in small towns, such as our very own New To You. It’s no coincidence that in England, the term “thrift store” doesn’t even exist—we call them “charity shops” Small independent thrift stores often donate 100% of their proceeds to the local Not for Profit that they are owned by, or in some cases the small number of local charities that share the costs of running the store. The larger players in the now big business of thrift stores are unfortunately not so generous and it is worth checking how the proceeds are spent to make sure that you are making the ethical choice you think you are, of these the worst is the go to second hand store of many Value Village’ they are a worldwide for profit group and very little of their proceeds make it to any of the national charities they are affiliated with. To have the most local impact support your local thrift store with your purchases and your donations so your local community can benefit, and the environment also benefits from this approach as there is less mileage on those local bargains.

Personal impact

Thrifting is cheaper. Need I say more, with life becoming more and more expensive, and the economy in a down turn. Also buying local will get you cheaper prices than the bigger urban thrift stores. I don’t think anywhere can beat the prices that start at 50c at the New To You.

Secondhand clothing is often higher quality than comparatively-priced clothing. As you can often get a better quality item for less than the price of a new one of lower quality. Here in Barrhead I would have to directly compare maybe a Red Apple or Fields cheap plain T shirt with a 50c or $2 higher end version that you would find at the New To You. Or a pair of brand name lightly worn winter boots that will last this and seasons to come over a poor quality cheaper pair which may end up in you having cold feet before Christmas. It is often our local farming community that buys good outdoor pieces from us, it definitely feels good to be warm when out calving in February without having to worry about ruining expensive winter workwear.

Thrifted clothing offers more room for uniqueness. Since thrifted clothing infrequently comes in multiples, you’re much less likely to bump into someone wearing the exact same thing. Which as we are a small town is bound to happen if we shop in our other local stores. In addition, there is also the chance of finding clothes that were produced decades ago, or on the other side of the country, or in some cases even from other countries which gives room for anyone’s fashion choices to be accommodated.

Thrift shopping allows for more creativity. Who wants to look exactly like everyone else, where else in town would you find just the right pieces that when worn together are so uniquely you?

In short, thrifting is more environmentally and socially responsible, and most importantly cost effective and fun. What are you waiting for?

And this is just about clothes, imagine the rewards locally, personally and globally of shopping in the other rooms at the New To You...

As well as clothes we have books, games, toys, curios & collectables, small pieces of furniture, home décor, jewellery, housewares, seasonal items (Did someone say Christmas?) and for that extra special item check out our Silent Auctions – ending the last workday of every other month, be there at 12 noon on December 20th 2019 for the end of the next one.


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