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Thrift Stores for Holiday Shopping: Yea or Nay?

Is It Okay to Shop at Thrift Stores for the Holidays?

One of the biggest steps we can take in slowing climate change’s impact is in reducing our consumption. In a country where the free market is our holiest of religions, that can be a hard thing for many of us to consider, let alone do. Opting for secondhand used items from thrift stores instead of brand new—even if it’s ‘eco’—is better for the environment, plain and simple. But what about when it comes to gifting for the holidays?

This post is part of Important Media’s More Love, Less Stuff holiday event. This year, we’re talking about how we can redefine holiday traditions to be less about material things and more about friends, family, and fun.

Shopping at thrift stores can become, well, second nature to a lot of folks. Thrift stores are a fun way to find unique items you can’t get at retail and the prices can’t be beat either. Doing better for the planet and saving money do go hand-in-hand in most cases, and a wardrobe can be a big factor in that arena.

Another benefit to shopping secondhand, ironically, is you can find clothes that will last longer than what’s available at most retailers today. In the current era of fast fashion, clothes lose color, texture and wear so quickly that many of those items are unfit even for secondhand stores, winding up in landfills instead. But higher quality clothing, those items meant to last decades, can be found in secondhand stores for fantastic prices and still with years of wear left in them. The same goes for quality shoes and handbags.

That being said, not everyone is a fan of used clothes. Personally, I don’t give clothes as gifts unless I know for a fact there is a specific item that someone really wants. Clothes need to fit right and feel right and even if you know someone’s style, it can be difficult to pick the perfect item of clothing. And some people have yet to get over their disdain for secondhand stores, so it’s important to know who you can confidently give a used gift and have it well received.

Of course, thrift stores are filled with non-clothing items as well that do make fabulous holiday gifts: old paintings and frames, record albums, classic books, dishware, and all kinds of vintage jewelry and other items that may make suitable gifts. And sometimes in secondhand stores you’ll also find brand new unopened items like toys for kids.

Know who you’re shopping for first and foremost and then give your local thrift stores a whirl this holiday season to see if you can get some shopping done while also reducing your impact on the environment.

Image: Jeepers Media

Written by Jill Ettinger

is co-director of Eat Drink Better. She is the senior editor at and A focus on food, herbs, wellness and world cultural expressions, Jill explores what our shifting food, healing systems and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Stay in touch on Twitter @jillettinger and .

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