Thrift stores offer a sustainable, unique alternative to fast fashion

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Alexia Beller, Staff Writer

Alexia Beller

Alexia Beller

When I mention thrift shopping to some people, I often get responses like “but aren’t the clothes dirty?” or “most of the stuff is probably ugly if someone gave it away.” 

As someone who has learned to appreciate thrift shopping, I’ve come to realize that the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is exceedingly true. 

I used to give similar excuses to justify not buying pre-owned clothing. It wasn’t until a friend of mine forced me into a local Goodwill that I gave it a chance. I ended up leaving with black sweatpants that have “The Beverly Hills Polo Club” embroidered in hot pink with a matching drawstring. They’re still my favorite pair of sweatpants to this day. 

I’ve never viewed thrifting the same.

One of my favorite things about thrift shopping is how sustainable this method of shopping is. While I love fashion, the fashion industry isn’t necessarily harmless to our environment. 

Fast fashion is the practice of making inexpensive clothes very quickly so retailers can be up-to-date with all the latest trends. It’s a highly disruptive industry for many reasons. Producing mass amounts of clothing requires tons of water, pollutes our natural waterways and puts microfibers into our oceans that eventually enter our bodies when we eat seafood (ew). 

Additionally, it produces tons of textile waste, generates greenhouse gas emissions and deposits chemicals into our soil.

Shopping in thrift stores is a significantly more sustainable way to shop. When you choose second-hand over fast fashion, it decreases the demand and as a result, causes less pollution. Second-hand items don’t require more resources to produce- they’re already made!

Many of my favorite and most highly praised clothing items are pre-loved pieces I’ve purchased from second-hand stores in Santa Barbara. 

Because Santa Barbara attracts a large range of age groups, from college students to retirees, the thrift stores here are truly gold mines for second-hand items. 

These two age groups make the stores unique to the area, as they are filled with both on-trend clothing and accessories from the younger generation and funky and antique things from the older generation of people. 

This major factor sets the Santa Barbara shops apart from thrift stores in neighboring cities.

Crossroads Trading Co. on State Street is one of my personal favorites. Known and loved by many students, it’s a great place to shop without always feeling bad about the price tag. Although it can seem intimidating, with a little patience can lead to an incredible discovery. 

Other favorites of mine include The Closet Trading Co. and Destined for Grace Thrift Store. 

Next time you decide it might be time to update your closet, try checking out a thrift store before you hit Paseo Nuevo. You never know what incredible things you’ll find, but you can’t find out if you never try.