Sustainability: Cheap Thrills: Into the World of Thrifting

Cat Wang, Staff Writer

As beautiful as Hamilton, N.Y. is, Colgate’s mail services can definitely attest that it does not have it all. With mail services consistently receiving over 1,200 packages a day and, in some cases, over 4,000, this recent overload demonstrates a surge of additional wants and needs from Colgate students for things outside of Hamilton, especially in the age of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, for many people this includes countless articles of new clothing for their wardrobes as the seasons change. Yet by choosing to buy new, it is all too easy to overlook the detriment of the fast fashion industry which too often relies on unethical and outsourced labor and encourages people to constantly purchase new, relatively inexpensive clothing. To keep up with the latest fashion trends, consumers continuously buy new clothes and, consequently, are inclined to get rid of their older clothing just as fast — though they have often only been worn a few times. 

This harmful and unsustainable practice undoubtedly has its impacts on the planet, as the production of clothing is an extremely water and energy intensive process. Frequently, the companies responsible disregard proper environmental regulation and conservation policies. In an effort to discontinue the perpetual and vicious fast-fashion cycle, one of the easiest and most effective solutions to this problem is to thrift. It is genuinely surprising why Americans don’t embrace thrifting more. In addition to preventing needless waste, it is considerably cheaper to buy used clothes — the vast majority of which are in great condition, and provide the same function, style, and happiness as brand new clothing with tags. In my own experience, I have been able to buy multiple articles of clothing for one or two dollars each and can always find something that appeals to me. For many, becoming conscious that a brand name and a tag — or, a certain pattern of stitching and a piece of paper — are not worth the markup or environmental degradation they entail will be a freeing realization.

Though the options in Hamilton or your local thrift stores may not always have everything you’re looking for in the moment, an entire online thrifting community exists where people deliberately go thrifting to look for items that they think other people would want to buy. In doing so, they do the thrifting for others and simultaneously demonstrate that thrifting can be fun, fashionable and trendy. Based on people’s preferences and what sells the fastest, thrifters hand-select clothes for people to buy, and sell them at a less expensive price than if you were to buy similar items at department stores. Whether it’s with sustainability or profit in mind, online thrifting has created a viable solution for people who want to thrift more but don’t necessarily have the time or access to thrift stores where they are. Furthermore, when you buy from online thrift accounts on apps like Instagram or ones specifically meant for selling thrifted and used clothing — like thredUP or Poshmark — you are supporting small business owners who put in time and effort to satisfy the desires of people looking for suitable clothing, all while preventing the further needless purchasing of brand new clothing.

In today’s age, fashion can promote confidence and give people the opportunity to express themselves. So, as you search for the newest additions for your closet, keep in mind that a cheaper, just as effective alternative exists that is better for the planet as well. While we remain cooped up in Hamilton, thrifting provides an inexpensive and fun way to convey your style and you can find new pieces locally or have them delivered right to you when you order from other people. The possibilities of what you can find are quite literally endless, and are almost always a pleasant surprise.