My daughter is a huge fan of fashion. I’m talking shoes, full princess dresses, shoes, everyday play dresses, hair bows, shoes . . . you name it. I find myself balking at this for several reasons: 1) I am not a fashionista myself, and I don’t see the need for all the fuss. 2) Her tastes are really, really expensive!! 3) Fast fashion is really environmentally unfriendly.
Why do I say that? Because the factories that mass produce clothing use huge amounts of energy and water in the process. UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation say the fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emissions every year. That’s more than all international flights and shipping combined. Plus, when typical first world consumers are done with an item of clothing, many people just throw it out—and into the landfill it goes, where certain fabrics can take up to 200 years to decompose.
We’ve found a compromise that works for our family, and that’s shopping for some of our clothes at Salvation Army. There is usually a huge amount of kids’ clothing to choose from, including tons of play clothes that we don’t feel guilty about sending along with our kids to daycare, and really nice, lightly used dress clothes. It seems that young flower girls don’t always need to use their fancy gowns multiple times. And, places like The Salvation Army, will likely resell them for under five bucks.
This is great for our family because we can tell our daughter “yes” to her fancy instincts, and we can bring an entire sack of new-to-her clothes home for under $40. And, we feel good knowing that instead of ending up in the ocean or in a dump somewhere, these perfectly good clothes will be given fresh life. Not gonna lie, my daughter even found one of her favorite bathing suits there—and my husband has found quite a few polo shirts and sweaters for work.
I highly recommend popping into your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, community clothes closet or other thrift stores to browse around. There’s more than enough to go around, and at a way lower price than the big box stores. Plus, a portion of the proceeds go to the organization’s outreach programs and relief efforts.
Also, swap pages on social media could put you in touch with families wanting to offload old clothing. And, as social distancing restrictions are relaxed, good old-fashioned neighborhood garage sales might be making a comeback as well.
If you have family or friends with kids who are looking to pass down their kids’ old clothes, I also recommend reaching out to them to let them know you’re interested in taking some and inquiring what sizes they have. I’m sure they’d rather give the clothes to someone they know than drop them off in a bin in a parking lot somewhere. I have four bags full of size 8 boys’ clothes from my friends, just waiting for my son to grow into them. We shouldn’t have to shop for him when he turns 8 at all. (Thanks, guys!)
I’m popping on my silky blue-green button-down top that I was super excited to find at Salvation Army this winter, while my son continues to try to convince me to go back and pick up the leopard-print jacket that he thinks will look great on me. There’s something for everyone, so I hope you enjoy your own thrift store treasure hunting.