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Thrift Shopping Tips


Thrift shopping is a fun, financially friendly, and a more sustainable alternative to traditional shopping. Textile waste is increasing due to the demand for fast fashion and massive clothing production. In 2014, the average consumer bought 60% more clothing than in 2000, but kept it all for half as long. Studies show that the average American throws away about 82 lbs. of textiles every year, making 5% of our landfills textile waste.

So what can we do? Support your local thrift shop and shop second-hand items to give them a second life and divert them from ending up in our landfills. You can find one-of-a-kind clothing pieces that make your style feel unique and fresh by shopping second hand. Here are some tips to maximize your next thrifting outing: 

1. Have a Plan

Go in with specific things you are looking for. If you want to find a cool Hawaiian shirt for your next trip to the beach, head straight to the button-down rack and start looking for a design that calls your name. Be ready to dig through the options and remember to be patient with the process.

2. Upcycle the items you purchase

If you find an item you were looking for but it seems a bit worn down, get creative and find new ways to upcycle and remodel your product. Recently, an ILACSD staff went thrift shopping for furniture and found a worn down picnic-style chair. They sanded the chair down and repainted it green, adding just the right pop of color to her patio! Check out the DIY Inspired website for more crafty tips and upcycling projects.

3. Ask yourself some questions before purchasing

Do you already have something that looks similar? Do I really need this or is this a temporary want? By doing some self-reflection before check-out, you can detach yourself from the process of shopping and enjoy it as a peaceful and creative activity for self-expression.

4. Explore other second-hand resources

There are multiple other options other than thrift shops where you can find second hand items! Check out Offer Up and Facebook Market Place for second hand items being sold in your local areas. Buy Nothing groups on Facebook have items usually for free, garage sales and yard sales happen on the weekends, and vintage shops are great places to find curated items. 

Another great idea is to exchange items that you already own with your friends and family. Check out our latest blogpost on “How to Host Your Own Clothing SWAP” for more details.

5. Don’t overwhelm yourself

Thrifting should be fun! Explore one section of the store during your visit and check-in with yourself on time. Bring some headphones to listen to music and get in the zone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find what you are looking for and ask other shoppers for opinions on items!

6. Don’t feel like you need to buy everything at the thrift store!

Just because prices may be cheap does not mean you should be purchasing everything you picked out. Remember, the whole idea is to reduce the unnecessary textile waste that ends up in the landfill and purchasing additional items may make it more tempting to toss out old ones. Choose your top items to buy at a thrift store. 

7. Donate Your Items

Remember that by donating items keeps the thrifting cycle alive. The next time you find yourself at a thrift store, think to yourself: if I bring an item into my closet, what item can I take out and donate? By donating items you help create a circular economy!

Looking to go thrifting? Find your local thrift shop or closest donation center near you on 

Want to attend a Clothing SWAP? Check out to find our next SWAP event near you!