Thrifting equals gifting

Upcycling clothes gives students a purpose, way to give back

Bridget Neville, Front Page Editor

Wednesdays at Goodwill have become a favorite place for senior Mia Vander Zwaag. With recently restocked donation bins, she is excited about the opportunity that this shopping endeavor will bring. 

“I remember the first time I went thrift shopping. I found a shirt for only 50 cents, and I was hooked,” Vander Zwaag said. 

Thrifting is defined as going shopping at a thrift store, flea market, or other retailers to find gently used items at a discounted price. Having parents interested in thrifting, Vander Zwaag is no stranger to upcycled fashion. 

“My parents have been thrifting my whole life, so I really just grew up around it, spending a lot of time in second-hand stores like Goodwill or Scout,” Vander Zwaag said. 

Through thrifting, Vander Zwaag has created friendships over a shared passion for thrifting. On any given Wednesday, you can find Vander Zwaag shopping at Goodwill with her friend, senior Ryan Day, who also enjoys second-hand goods. 

“In seventh grade, I thrifted my first shirt. Since then, I’ve loved finding hand-me-ups,” Day said. 

Going thrifting has become a form of self-expression for Vander Zwaag and Day. And it serves as a way for them to practice sustainability in their daily lives. Being able to find uncommon items and for a fraction of the cost makes thrifting all the more exciting. 

“My favorite [thrifted] item is this crazy rainbow-colored pattern sweater that was made by an Australian brand, and they range from $100 up to $1000 buying them first hand, but I got mine for $7,” Vander Zwaag said. 

As thrifting veterans, Day and Vander Zwaag frequently give recommendations to anyone who wants to begin thrifting, and they agree thrifting takes a unique mindset. Unlike retail stores, it is difficult to go into a second-hand-store with a specific item in mind. Instead, they recommend letting the pieces speak to you. 

“Thrifting is totally random. You can’t go in with any expectations,” Day said.

Though formally a niche activity, thrifting has become a crucial aspect of this generation. As a generation known for activism, this activity has become a favorite pastime for many. 

“I think the increase in popularity in thrift stores has been an amazing step toward being an environmentally conscious generation,” freshman Makenna Jolley said.  Thrifting keeps more clothes out of landfills and reduces the pollution and waste that is created when making new clothing. People [who thrift] are also inadvertently helping the environment, which is a major issue in our world today.”

While people thrift for aesthetics, many people also thrift for environmental benefits. Thrifting allows for bettering the planet and directly avoiding involvement in an unethical industry. 

“Rather than going to waste, people can reuse and recycle clothes for affordable prices. [Thrifting] makes shopping fun, affordable, and it’s better for the environment,” freshman Makenna Jolley said. 

Beyond wanting to avoid the waste that frequently comes with fast fashion, many people thrift in order to help marginalized communities who have to work to make these clothes. 

“Fast fashion is so dangerous. Working conditions for people who make the clothes are horrible, and most times, their products get thrown away and burned within one season,” Vander Zwaag said. 

While many people find themselves in the aisles of Goodwill for different reasons, it has become a safe haven for all. 

“If people are going to go thrifting, they should try to give back,” Jolley said. “Donating old clothes to thrift stores is just as important as shopping at thrift stores. Giving back to these places is important so that we can all continue to enjoy thrifting.”