When my daughters were very young I used to set them loose in our local thrift shop a couple times each year. They loved choosing clothes, toys and books. And I loved that I could outfit them for so little money.
Fast forward to their teen years. I didn’t dare suggest second-hand shopping in those days. Brand names and fitting-in were all important so they had to settle for less in order to stay within the budget. I forgot about buying ‘pre-loved’ merchandise for awhile.
Recently a friend invited me to volunteer with her at a large church-run thrift shop. I hadn’t been in one for years and my last volunteer job had been at a grizzly bear refuge, helping care for the bears. That work had been so interesting. Could working in a thrift shop come even close to being as rewarding?
The answer is yes. Absolutely. Maybe even more so. I get such satisfaction in seeing all those clothes and household goods get repurposed. I love watching the shoppers fill their baskets with treasures that they may not otherwise have been able to afford. I love knowing that the money earned by the store is channelled into worthwhile charities. And I wonder, why have I not been shopping in thrift shops all these years?
And as I become more involved in fighting climate change I realize how important the whole economy of second hand buying/selling is for our planet.
“According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, mass consumerism is bad for the environment in a myriad of ways. Millions of shoppers buying and then discarding smartphones and TV’S, for instance, contribute to the fifty million tons of e-waste the world generates each year. If you were to add up all the stuff people around the world consume, everything from food to birthday presents to toilet-bowl cleaner, it would total a whopping 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total water, land and material use.” (from Hope Matters by Elin Kelsey)
So repurposing those items that we no longer need/want is a good solution. Our belongings are kept out of the landfill and charities reap the rewards. Less ‘stuff’ has to be manufactured. Fewer natural resources are consumed.
And in the ‘what goes around comes around’ category, one daughter recently showed up wearing a beautiful dress. It looked fantastic on her. “Where did you get it?” I asked.
“Thrift shop,” she answered.