The Second Hand Industry

Charlotte Wilken, Staff Writer

Second hand shopping has been around forever, but it has been on the rise this past decade. There used to be a stigma around second hand shopping, which some people still have. People thought it was gross to use someone’s old things or that it was only something you did if you did not have enough money to buy new things. It has recently become more apparent to people, however, that second hand shopping is better for the environment, less wasteful, and more affordable.

There are many different kinds of second-hand shopping. Thrift stores are the most popular and usually where the prices are the lowest. The problem with thrift stores, though, is that they’re usually so big and have so much that it can be hard to find what you are looking for. There are also consignment stores, which are essentially smaller, more curated, and more expensive versions of thrift stores. Second-hand shopping can also be done online. Platforms like Depop, Poshmark, and Etsy have become popular for finding second hand items, particularly clothes. The thing that is so great about second hand shopping online is that it is so easy to navigate and find what you are looking for. You simply type in a brand or specific item and you can find what you are looking for in a few short minutes. Prices, however, do tend to be more expensive because often people will buy items from thrift stores and then post them on one of these platforms with a raised price so they can make money. Junior Hannah Rall says, “I started using Depop when COVID started because all of the thrift stores were closed. I’ve started liking it more than going to thrift stores because it’s much easier than having to sort through racks at a thrift store.”

While shopping second hand is quite popular, so is donating or selling to second hand stores. On the topic of donating clothes, freshman James Mickan says, “It’s an easy way to get rid of clothing without throwing it away, which is a waste.” The problem with this, however, is that these second hand stores, particularly thrift stores, are overloaded with donations. Since the start of COVID-19, people have been spending much of their time at home and this leads many people to clean and get rid of things they no longer have a use for. The most popular place that people bring these things is thrift stores. A lot of thrift stores have actually stopped accepting donations or are limiting them because they have more than they can handle. While most people’s intent is good when donating to thrift stores, their items can still go to waste in scenarios like this and they would have been better off being sent somewhere else.  

While donating to thrift stores might not be the best option, that does not mean you cannot still get rid of items you no longer want while being both savvy and keeping the environment in mind! Selling to consignment stores or selling online is a great option which, surprisingly, a lot of people do not take advantage of. The process of selling to consignment stores is super easy. Normally how it works is you take the clothes you are looking to sell to the consignment shop and an employee will sort through them and tell you what they are willing to take from you. They will either give you a percentage of the listed price right then or when your items sell. The great thing about consignment stores is that they only take from you what they know has a high chance of selling and which they have room for, meaning no items are going to waste. Selling online is very convenient too! It depends on which platform you use, but usually you upload pictures of items you want to sell with a price and details about it and when it sells, you ship it to your buyer. There is a specific online second hand selling platform which I think is worth mentioning: Thredup! With Thredup, you can send in big boxes of clothing, accessories, and shoes which you want them to sell for you. They give you a free shipping label and once your items sell, they pay you. If they are not able to sell certain items, they will recycle them responsibly. Using these methods to get rid of old things ensures that they are headed to a new home, rather than a landfill, and helps you make a little money at the same time. While I have gone into depth about selling old items, rather than bringing tons to the thrift store, you are most likely not going to be able to sell everything that you want to get rid of. Donating to homeless shelters and food banks is also a great option. People are in need of certain items, and rather than donating those things to a thrift store, you could donate them to these shelters where people will receive necessities for free. Sophomore Hugh Torrence says, “I try to donate to shelters over places like thrift stores because you know you’re doing something that will actually help people.”

Within the world of sustainability, it seems as though you always have to do everything perfectly. Let us remember, though, that corporations are what are causing the real harm to our environment. But, this does not mean that we should not worry about our own actions when it comes to climate change. We can realize that corporations are the main focus to blame for climate change, while still wanting to help and be more sustainable on an individual level. Senior Aila Woods says, “I think it’s important to realize that you don’t always have the option to be as sustainable as you wish you could. What you really want to try to do is just make sure that you’re not choosing options that are not sustainable at all, like throwing out clothes.” We cannot always be perfect. So, yes, sometimes you will donate to thrift stores and that is perfectly fine. You just want to make sure that you are being conscious of how your actions are affecting the people around you and your environment.