Before I delve too deep into the how’s, whys and general point of this blog post I have to say “I love op shopping” As someone who has mindlessly shopped online to stay awake during night time baby feeds (only to be surprised when a parcel arrived the next week) and generally enjoys fashion and putting new seasonal outfits together, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed trying to give up buying new clothes and instead turn to op shops. Here’s why..
You guys! op shopping is a thrill! I know that sounds uncool but I’m a millennial and I care about the planet so its ok. Unlike regular shopping where you arrive with an expectation of a particular outfit your after, op shopping is always a surprise. You have to go with no expectation because you have no control over what you may find! I am fundamentally neurotic and controlling yet I have rarely been disappointed by this approach.
I know that this can be time consuming because you really have to look through the shops thoroughly, but the internet is catching up so if spending an hour or so looking through thrift shops to update your wardrobe is too much then check out these websites they are the next best thing..
https://poshmark.com.au/ https://www.thecloset.com.au/ https://www.theonlineopshop.com.au/ https://swapup.com.au/ – An op shop based in Sydney, Australia that sell a large range of well known brands for a fraction of the cost of buying new, click on the link to check them out.
Now to get to the issues of buying fast fashion, the first being return policies. I’m sure everyone at some point has ordered something online and either discovered it doesn’t fit, doesn’t look like it did online or for some other reason needs to be returned. At this point you check the return policy on the website for instructions on how to send the clothes back (and nothing else), take it to the post office and off it goes.
It’s not that simple though. Companies have strict resale policies that most consumers are unaware of just because a product doesn’t meet your expectations and is sent back doesn’t mean that it is then put back on the shelves for someone else to buy. in fact 2.2 million tonnes of online returns are sent to landfill each year, that’s about 30% of all online sales in Australia!! there’s a lot of reasons why this happens (mostly due to costs associated with processing, holding, resale of items etc) I wont get into the whys too much because the focus point is that it happens and will continue to happen and this is one reason why thrift shopping can be so important not just because your reducing the potential for clothes ending up in land waste but there is a sense when shopping in an op shop that the purchase is final. An item bought from an op shop isn’t viewed as something that needs to fit a preconceived notion or it will be returned, your buying something for a quarter of the cost and goddamn it you will make it work for your wardrobe.
Excuse to thrift shop number 2: very little transportation needed, we’re all hopefully familiar with the fact that everything we buy from the shops has been transported there some how, clothes from op shops generally stay local or at least within the same states while clothing bought from retailers and online shops can be sent internationally, cross country, national couriers, state-wide couriers.. say it with me friends “CARBON EMISSIONS”
Another great reason to buy second hand is the obvious toll manufacturing has on the environment. It takes a lot of recourses to make clothes.. water, fuel, electricity, labour (rarely ethical) clothes are a drain on our planet and humanity from the second the materials are harvested. Even cotton although regularly seen as the more environmentally friendly material for clothing uses a massive amount of water to harvest, uses a large portion of land and pesticides can lead to soil acidification and water contamination. There are some companies these days selling “organic cotton” products, don’t get me started i’m not in the mood! but in general this is more so ‘clever marketing’ as appose to ‘planet saving’ so make sure you research before buying into this concept.
Lastly its for charity! Op shops put the money they make back into the community to support those in need and if you have run out of excuses to shop then let ‘giving back to the community’ be your forever excuse, no one can argue charity right?
So finally here are a few tips to get the most out of thrifting
- Make a stapes list for each season and search for those in op shops before turning to retailers
- If you can set aside some time to spend half a day going op shop to op shop to fulfil your list (alternatively a half hour once or twice a week is plenty)
- Check the collars! now this one depends on whether a garment has collars obviously but if it does and your looking for that ‘never been worn’ factor a collar never lies and its the first place to show signs of fabric fade
- keep an open mind – we have discussed making a staple list but be flexible about what you want to find. sometimes going to an op shop without a particular garment or outfit in mind is most practical Obviously you don’t want to splurge so be practical, is an item essential? is it going to be worn regularly? if its for kids than sizing can be flexible- a garment such as a coat, fancy outfit or boots that’s a size too big but is something they could wear over and over next winter or next summer? BUY IT BABE!
Every worthwhile purchase from an op shop reduces landfill, reduces our environmental impact and climate footprint, contributes to the supporting local community and believe me when I say a great find in an op shop hands down trumps the thrill from any spontaneous late night purchase or retail shopping and better yet not an ounce of guilt for contributing to climate change or spending too much.
So get out there guys and start thrifting!!