Green Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Instead of spending your paycheck on an expensive new outfit or gadget, how about saving some cash and helping out the environment by shopping at a thrift store.

Thrift store shopping is just another form of recycling and regulating CO2 emissions. Not only do you get to reuse a unique or vintage item, but you also stop factories from making more items and creating pollution, and that greatly reduces your carbon footprint.

Make the Most of Your Experience

If you’ve never been to a thrift store, then you may not know what you’re getting yourself into. Most thrift stores are disorganized and crowded, which may overwhelm shoppers and cause them to turn away in disbelief.

But if you’re willing to take some time to poke around the store and ask employees questions, then you may find that special something you’ve always been looking for.

Here are some tips to follow when thrift store shopping:

Go Through Your Personal Belongings

First, decide which items you are willing to donate. People don’t realize how much waste is created from items that were thrown away but could have been reused. You’ll not only make some extra space in your home for your newly bought thrift store items, but you’ll also provide someone with a reusable item.

Once you have a bag of donations, then you can see what needs to be replaced.

Make a List

Know ahead of time what you’re looking for so you won’t be scrambling to remember amidst a sea of shoppers.

If you’re getting something for someone else, like clothes, write down their sizes. (To reduce paper waste, write this down on a scrap sheet of paper that has already been used).

Choose a Location

Look up the locations of the thrift stores so you don’t get lost trying to find them.

There are usually Salvation Army and Goodwill stores in most cities, so they should be easy to locate. (The best thing about these two organizations is that they give their proceeds to humanitarian efforts.)

Bring Cash

Even though almost every store in the world accepts credit cards, there are many thrift stores that only accept cash. So go to the ATM or borrow some cash from a friend before you head out to go shopping.


If you live close enough to a store and the weather is nice, you can walk or bike to it. That will save you gas money, reduce CO2 emissions and save you time from trying to find a parking spot.

If you have to drive, know exactly how to get there so you don’t waste gas driving around.

At the Store

When you’re searching for items, think green.

  • If you don’t find the perfect shirt you’re looking for but you find a few that have certain elements you like, look for ways you can recycle the elements. You can find cool fabric from one item to add to another, or you can make something completely original from a mix of fabrics. And if something isn’t exactly your size, it can be easily altered and hemmed.
  • Try not to choose items that need to be dry-cleaned. Dry cleaners often use perchlorethylene (PERC), which is a man-made substance that can damage the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
  • Don’t buy things you’ll never use. That means don’t buy something just because it’s super cheap and you think it’s too great of a deal to pass up. Buying a stack of books you’ll never read, some pots you’ll never cook with or a record you’ll never listen to will only wind up in a landfill later, and then you’ll just be contributing to our land pollution problem.

Also, don’t forget to check for price tags and correct sizes. Sometimes a price tag is missing or the clothing item doesn’t have a size label, so ask an employee if you need help. The more that you get to know the employees, the more you’ll be aware of cool sales or future shipments.

Back at Home

After you’ve returned from the thrift store, you need to wash any clothing that you purchased.

If there are tough stains on the clothes you can use a mixture of water and baking soda to get them out. You can also add a ½ cup of vinegar in the wash cycle to help kill bacteria and other germs on the clothing.

Thrift store shopping can be a fun, green experience for everyone. Finding cool items that can be recycled will not only help the environment, but they might just help you brighten up your eco-lifestyle.

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