Second Hand Stores Are Good for the Wallet and Good for the Earth

Second Hand Stores Are Good for the Wallet and Good for the EarthThere are a few people I know who are embarrassed to admit they shop second hand. Apparently there’s some sort of stigma attached to shopping at second hand stores. But I think those who shop at second hand stores should be proud to say so, because it’s not only good for the wallet, it’s good for the Earth as well.

Second Hands Stores Are Good for the Wallet

Shopping at second hand stores is good for your wallet for obvious reasons. Things in second hand stores are often much less than what you can purchase them for new. Personally I do all my shopping at second hand stores and I can’t remember the last time I paid more than $5 for a pair of jeans. Very easy on the pockets.

The clothes in second hand stores aren’t just glorified rags either. A lot of them are name brand clothing items in really good shape. I once got a pair of Express jeans in great condition at the Salvation Army for $4.95. I don’t really follow brand names myself, so I didn’t think anything of it, but someone later told me they’re worth about $50. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

It’s also not just limited to clothing. Second hand stores usually have a nice selection of cupboards and tables at amazingly discounted prices, as well as electronics, tablecloths, dishes and silverware, used movies, and even vinyl records (for my fellow audiophiles). A few years ago I found my mom a replacement keyboard for her computer for just $2. Can’t beat that.

And it’s not just about the savings either. Sure there are other places you can go and get inexpensive clothing, but they’re generally cheaply made items, and more often than not, assembled by poor children in a sweatshop. By shopping second hand, you’re no longer directly supporting that.

As a little kid, I lived in hand-me-downs. Almost everything I owned had belonged to a cousin, an aunt, a parent, or grandparent at some point before it belonged to me. So making the transition to second-hand shopping was an easy one for me; the added benefit now being that I get to choose my second hand “hand-me-downs.”

Second Hand Stores Are Good for the Earth Second Hand Stores Are Good for the Wallet and Good for the Earth

Shopping at second hand stores is in itself a form of recycling. By not buying new clothes, you’re using what’s already available, rather than supporting the wasteful production of even more clothing. I say wasteful because 15-20% of the material from making new clothing is simply thrown in the trash because it’s too much work for clothing manufacturers to put the excess fabric to use. Why support that kind of waste when there’s an abundance of wonderful used clothing?

In addition, buying clothes from second hand stores help keep them out of the landfills. Decomposing clothing in landfills creates methane gas which contributes to further climate change. Decomposing clothing also leaches dyes and other chemicals into the surrounding soils. The average American throws out about 65 pounds of fabric every year (the fabric being mostly clothing, but some other household items as well such as linens, curtains, tablecloths, etc). That’s a lot of clothing in the landfills. Shopping at second hand stores recycles that clothing, giving it new life in its second hand usage, rather than just decomposing in an already overcrowded dumpster.

Second hand clothing is healthier 

I know that one sounds a little weird, but it’s true. Clothing from second hand stores is healthier because it’s not new. New clothes are usually filled with unhealthy production chemicals. These chemicals eventually wash out over time, however, so by the time you purchase second hand clothes, they’ve usually already been washed a number of times, and much of the nasty chemical residues are gone.

And as a final benefit, a lot of second hand stores such as the Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Volunteers of America don’t just sell used items, they help people in their communities. By shopping at these second hand stores your dollars go to help the local community causes instead of just filling the pockets of big corporations. It’s a win-win for everyone. So shopping at second hand stores isn’t something people should be embarrassed about, it’s something people should be proud of, because they’re helping the environment and their local communities by doing so.

So, what’s your favorite item, clothing or otherwise, that you’ve found on a second hand shopping trip?

Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

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