Shop Secondhand First: Low Waste Living on a Budget #6

Let me tell you something, you honestly wouldn’t believe the things that people just give away to thrift stores. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of full furniture sets, fancy dinnerware, and upscale brand clothes that I have seen in my time thrifting. If I had a home of my own there would have been at least a few large purchases made by me this past year for some things in amazing condition. I know that there is the stigma around buying things secondhand and that the things that you get from thrift stores is always dirty, and I have definitely touched on the subject myself when I talked about things I would never ever buy from a thrift store (article here). But for all the bad stuff that you can find, there is also a huge amount of good. 

See there is a two-sided coin when it comes to the consumerism that has gripped so much of the world today. Because we talk about how there are a lot of wealthier people who buy something, maybe use it once or twice, and then they either donate it or throw it away. Now throwing away that thing is obviously inherently the wrong thing to do, because a lot of times, by donating it, there are a lot more lower-income people who can now afford that pricy item. 

There is of course a downside to this when everyone just donates their stuff to secondhand stores, and we are seeing it a lot now. Stores cannot keep up with a ton of the donations that they are getting, and a lot of times they end up shipping their donation elsewhere to other stores in order to lighten the load. But I posit that the real problem isn’t with everyone donating, but with everyone buying new first. If you think about it, if everyone shopped secondhand first for the things they were looking for, we would have more of a closed loop system going on with our thrift stores.

I will admit that secondhand shopping requires a bit of an internal switch, just because of the fact that there is no real guarantee that what you want to find will be at that store, which is why it is better to go in with an open mind and no set agenda. It is much easier to look for a broad category of things than it is for one specific item. For example, in the summertime, I like to go and look for just summer clothes, whether that be tank tops, shorts, or cute shirts. A lot of the time I can find a lot more stuff when I look in a broad category than say if I was just looking for a pair of embroidered shorts and a red tank top. I probably could find those things if I wanted to, but it is so much easier to shop when you aren’t focused on finding just one thing. 

Shopping secondhand won’t necessarily be able to fit everyone’s personal style, but I’ve found that it fits mine. It doesn’t matter to me when I shop for shirts if a shirt that I like is two sizes too big for me, because I personally like the baggy oversized look. I’ve also found that shopping secondhand is best for people with a creative and crafty side. When I wasn’t able to find any denim shorts on the rack of one of the thrift stores I shop at, I just went to the denim jeans rack and I found a few pairs that fit me. I bought them, took them home, and then cut them into shorts and sewed a cuff. I found a bunch of cute baskets that I’m going to be turning into a piece of wall decor for my apartment, and I’ve found a few simple pieces of furniture that I’ve been able to refinish to fit my style. 


Secondhand shopping is great for anyone on a budget, simply because it saves money, and it helps prevent things from going straight to landfill. Pinterest is a great source for you to find easy DIYs made from thrifted materials, and maybe you know someone in your life that could help you resize a dress or a pair of pants that you found. Whatever your style or preference, I suggest that you should always try to find whatever you’re looking for secondhand first, so that you can give an already well-loved item a second chance. 

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