Sustainable Style: Thrifting for an Eco-Friendly Wardrobe


Daniela Lesmana and Evelyn Lee

In the past, wearing secondhand clothing was frowned upon. Recently, however, used clothing has become valuable and trendy, often being admired even more than brand new clothes. Thrifting is especially popular amongst teenagers, as it is a fun and affordable way to buy clothes. As a result, used clothing stores are commonly filled with local teens eagerly sorting through racks of donations.


Why Thrift?

Many students agree that new brands are typically out of their budget and difficult to get a hold of. Thrifting provides a solution: a wide selection of styles, qualities, and brands for much less than buying from new stores. Since used clothes in thrift shops are generally inexpensive, the low prices for good quality items can assist shoppers in purchasing a budget-friendly wardrobe. 

“Pieces like pants and sweaters can be so expensive, and usually at thrift stores you can find them for a lot less. Many of the sweaters I’ve found were around $8,” Nicolas Morales, a West Ranch freshman, voiced.

Apart from inexpensive fashion, thrifting is an environmentally benefiting alternative to purchasing new clothing. By buying secondhand items, there is no contribution to creating waste in the environment. As trends come and go, trending clothes are harmful to the planet because most fashion materials are not biodegradable. When thrifted, clothes are not manufactured or disposed of, but are instead recycled.

“Buying used clothes is really beneficial because you are giving them a new home, where they would usually end up in a landfill,” Morales added. “Like the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ someone might like the clothing another person wants to throw away. Also, since it is relatively affordable, thrifting is a good way for people who are less fortunate to buy clothes.”

Furthermore, thrifted clothes are a great way to add character to your wardrobe. While thrifting, it is easy to find unexpected, unique pieces and attire. From a pair of jeans with an interesting detail to a shirt with a comical graphic, leaving with something irreplaceable to add to your closet can enhance personal style. 

“I like looking for the more vintage, Lorelai-Gilmore-type pieces,” junior Ashley Chen noted, describing her thrifting inspiration from the popular Gilmore Girls character. “I feel like thrifting finds me better clothes in my style than shopping in other stores, for much more affordable, too. My favorite piece I have ever found is a grandpa sweater that was only five dollars.”

Ideal Thrifting Locations

Thrift stores can be hard to find and the lack of an online presence can make it difficult to participate in thrifting. Some of the most popular used clothing stores are the Goodwill and Salvation Army, but frequent thrifters agree that it is better to shop at less popular stores. The less a store has been sorted through, the more likely it is to find something special. 

“I visit Runway Fashion by our mall,” sophomore Tashvi Ratnani explained. “I thrift most of my clothes there, including statement pieces and things I can wear more than once.”

As a more convenient method, online thrift store options include Thredup, Depop, and Mercari. Scrolling through choices with an app can be a good alternative to visiting a store, but significantly more expensive. These shops are directly from the seller, as the owner markets their clothes on their account and chooses how much to sell it for. 

Thrifting Tips!

Thrifting can seem a little daunting at first, with the view of crowded racks of clothes when first stepping foot inside. Depending on the store, there can be a large range of categories and departments to look through and finding a starting point can be difficult. It helps to have an idea in mind of what to search for before looking through the different sections. After a while of digging, one can quickly get accustomed. Even a seemingly unpromising area can hold a great addition waiting to be added to your wardrobe. 

“Sift through every single piece,” Chen recommended, “there are always hidden gems you might miss if you just glance over the rack.”

Thrift stores are very different from department stores. Not all clothes fit the same taste or aesthetic. With thrifting, it is important to be open-minded, understanding that finding something to accommodate a desired taste will probably not happen immediately. Taking it slowly and considering all options can bring a successful outcome. 


Although thrift stores are supplied by the area’s local residents, it is important to keep donations constant. Unused clothes with minimal damage can be given to a thrift store instead of being thrown out, and they could have a new life in someone else’s closet. What may seem dull or out-of-style to one person may be the perfect piece for another thrifting enthusiast.