Why Thrifting Is Good for Your Wallet, Your Closet AND the Environment

As certain businesses begin to reopen around the country, we look forward to returning to activities that'll make our lives feel somewhat normal again.

With many thrift stores opening again, the opportunities seem nearly endless—but how can we make the most of our thrifting experiences, and why exactly are they so gratifying?

We chatted with travel blogger and thrift shop guru Jess Dante to find out.  She's the founder of Love + London, which helps tourists in London travel the city like locals through her YouTube channel, digital community and media brand, and she's an expert when it comes to finding amazing pieces and feeling great about your impact in the world.

Sweety High: What advice do you have for finding great thrift shops, or locating great finds at the thrift shops you frequent?

Jess Dante: I find the best things at thrift shops located in higher-end neighborhoods. I live in London, so for me that would be Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Clapham. These are areas that are expensive to live in, so naturally, the shops tend to have nice, upscale and occasionally designer pieces. But since everyone has different styles and tastes, the best thing to do is to scope out as many thrift stores as possible in your area and see if any of them cater more to your style and tastes than others. Even if the shops themselves can't control the stock, you'll be more likely to find pieces that you like in a place where the vibe matches your own. Most importantly, have patience! It can take a lot of browsing and sifting to find the real gems.


(Image courtesy of Love + London)


SH: How do you personally feel when you find a great pre-loved piece at a thrift store? Why is that experience unique?

JD: I seriously feel amazing when I find something perfect at a thrift store! It often happens right as I'm just about to quit, or after a long day of browsing and not finding anything that I like or that fits. It's almost a game, because you never really know until you try something on. But then, when I get in the dressing room and something fits perfectly, it's like the heavens have opened up and the angels are singing!

My best find was at thrift store in Notting Hill once. I'd been looking for black knee-high boots for years, and I finally found the perfect pair. I wear them so much, and you might spot them in quite a few of my YouTube videos. Plus, because thrifting takes so much time and patience, it makes me appreciate the items that I find so much more.


(Image courtesy of Love + London)


SH: Are there any major DOs and DON'Ts of thrifting?

JD: Do have patience. You could spend hours thrifting and not find a single item that you want to bring home, but then the next day you might pop into a random shop and come out with 10 pieces that you love.

Do seek out thrift stores when you go on vacation, or even just visit a new town. It could be a fun tradition whenever you go somewhere new, and it will help you build up your collection of secondhand gems!

Don't take just any friend shopping with you. The best people to thrift with are the ones who understand the process, so they don't mind if they wait for you while you're still looking. A true thrifting buddy appreciates that it takes time to find the best bits.

Don't forget to really inspect every piece that you hope to buy. Mainly, check for stains and pulls—things that you probably can't fix at home. Small holes, especially along seams, usually aren't a huge deal, as they can be fixed pretty easily.


SH: Do you have any other tips for sustainable shopping?

JD: Even if you don't have any thrift stores near where you live, there are so many great apps, like Poshmark, where you can shop secondhand. These items aren't listed by stores—they're directly from the owner, so you're buying from people who are just like you. These apps are especially great for finding things where fit isn't a concern, like bags and accessories. Plus, you get to buy items at a discount and save it from going to a landfill!


SH: Why is thrift shopping often a better alternative than shopping at fast fashion retailers?

JD: Fast fashion as an industry is one of the most damaging to our planet. These retailers pollute developing countries, abuse workers' rights, and create pieces that are so poorly made, they'll end up in a landfill after just a few uses. By buying secondhand, you give a piece a second life and save it from ultimately polluting our planet. You're also voting with your wallet, and sending the message that you're against the damage that fast fashion is doing. Plus, on a more personal level, you can find clothing that is made much better than most fast fashion pieces, but are so much cheaper than when they're new.

Jess Dante thrift shopping

(Image courtesy of Love + London)


SH: What are some of the harms of fast fashion that we might not think about when we buy an inexpensive piece of clothing?

JD: The industry is notorious for building factories in developing nations, polluting their water supply with toxic chemicals and abusing workers' rights to make clothing as cheaply as possible. Textile pollution is one of the most damaging to our ecosystems, both from the production side and from the post-production side, when these cheaply made items end up back in landfills shortly after purchase. When we buy anything from companies that are doing these things, we are saying we're okay with that happening.


SH: How can we reverse those effects?

JD: There are two great ways to help. The first is to buy from brands that are working hard to make clothing as sustainably as possible, like Everlane. These companies ensure workers are paid properly, and that they are working with environmentally-friendly factories. No company is perfect, but choose ones that are working every day to make sure they're leaving as little impact on the planet as possible.

The second, truly, is buying secondhand. As admirable as these companies are in their efforts, they also tend to be too expensive for a lot of people. Buying secondhand is a budget-friendly alternative that's actually even better than buying something new from a sustainable brand.


For even more on how to get the most out of thrifting, click HERE for our very favorite thrift store hacks.