Thrifting Drifts Far From Its Original Purpose

Adia Elcock, Staff Writer

Imagine walking into a thrift store with $100 dollars, and leaving with 20 sweaters. Now imagine walking in a thrift store in need of an affordable sweater, but not being able to find one because sweaters are out of stock. For many people, the latter is now their reality, due to the rise of “thrifting.”

Rise of overconsumption at thrift stores leaves less for those in need. Photo courtesy of Pixabay ©

In the quest for sustainability, shopping at thrift stores or “thrifting” has become a popular way to reduce waste and reuse goods, specifically clothes. Many people praise shopping at thrift stores, and have villainized shopping from fast-fashion shops such as Shein, in an effort to save the planet. 

However, thrift stores were not originally created as a way to increase sustainability. They were created as a way for low-income people to find things they need at affordable prices. Unfortunately, thrift stores have evolved from cheap, convenient shopping options, to centers for $100 shopping sprees. 

For many years, thrift stores were a somewhat hidden, yet important, part of society. Unwanted items would be donated to the store, then priced and displayed for sale. Shoppers would come into the store looking to buy items at a price they could afford. With the rise of thrift culture, this is no longer the case. 

Graphic by Vy Nguyen.

Now, it is common for shoppers with hundreds of dollars to buy 20 or more items at thrift stores because of their low prices, with the assumption that they will use or sell those items. If one person did this once a month, there would still be enough goods for those who need them. However, many people, specifically members of Gen-Z, are making large purchases at thrift stores with the purpose of being “sustainable,” leaving few items for those in need. This, coupled with unpredictable stock has led to many people who rely on thrift stores for everyday necessities calling for an end to the thrifting trend.

A simple way to buy from thrift stores without majorly affecting those in need is to only buy items that will definitely be put to use, or donate an item for every item bought. These methods ensure that thrift stores do not run out of stock too quickly, helping those who depend on them to find the things they are looking for.

In order for the most people to benefit from thrift stores, there needs to be moderation. While spending $100 on fifty items from a thrift store sounds tempting, consumers should remember that there are people who depend on thrift stores for everyday items. If consumers are considerate, everyone can find what they need, while saving the planet.