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Thrift Stores as Part of Your Sustainable and Frugal Lifestyle

One of the best ways to live sustainably and frugally is to do your shopping at thrift stores. You can save money, and at the same time reduce the number of resources being used up.

 Sustainable Living with Thrift Stores

Many consumers make a big deal of using products made from recycled materials. This is a good thing, of course. Often, these products have less of an impact on the environment. However, it still requires resources and energy to turn old items into new.

Thrift stores get rid of that requirement. Instead, you have access to used items that don’t have to go through much of a process, other than being cleaned up. Instead of using up resources, you are using something that is already there. It’s more sustainable to buy used items, including clothing, tools, appliances, and household items. Look for items that are still in good condition, and determine whether they will work for you. In many cases, it’s possible to find items in good condition at thrift stores, especially if you strike out with freecycling.

 Frugal Living with Thrift Stores

On top of being more sustainable than other sources of consumer goods, thrift stores also add an element of frugality. They are called thrift stores for a reason. You get access to good items and products for a lower price. You can get what you need most of the time, in fairly good condition, without having to pay for brand new. This saves you money, especially in the long run, so that you can spend your resources on things that really matter to you.

There’s no reason to buy new when you can do just as well with used — and save money as well.

 Using Thrift Stores in Your Low Impact, Low Cost Lifestyle

Thrift stores are ideal for the sustainable and frugal lifestyle. However, making the switch to a lifestyle that incorporates thrift stores can be a little challenging. You have to change your mindset from heading to the department store first thing when you need something. And you need to have a strategy for making sure that you get access to the best items available.

One of the best things you can do is talk to someone at the thrift store to find out when the new arrivals are put out. Many thrift stores put out new items on the same day or two each week. If you know when the new items are put out, you have a better chance of finding what you want, and finding items that are of higher quality. If you have an especially good relationship with someone who works at the thrift store, you can get him or her to set items aside on your behalf, if you know what you are looking for.

However, if you are trying to save money, you do need to make sure that you aren’t buying just to buy. Even though something is a good deal at the thrift store, it doesn’t mean that you should automatically buy. Just as you would evaluate any other purchase, think through your thrift store purchase, and make sure that it fits with your needs and your goals.

How do you use thrift stores?

25 thoughts on “Thrift Stores as Part of Your Sustainable and Frugal Lifestyle

  1. One important point that was missed. Just because it is at a thrift store does not mean it is a good deal. You still need to do your research.

    Last week a friend found a glass punch bowl at a thrift store for $5 that was regularly $3 at the store it originally came from, and it still had that stores tag on it. Additionally, I watched another local thrift store put one of those little kid electric vehicles out with a higher tag than the price of ordering one new, even after shipping. (It even had some damage.) While the price was eventually dropped I’m not sure whether it has sold yet or not.

    Moral of the story, while the item might seem to be a good price it may be cheaper to go to the local big box store and buy it new, especially if it is on clearance.

  2. My wife was able to get the pieces to our Halloween costume for our three year old for $4.75 at a thrift store yesterday. The new item equivalent would have cost at least $25 and was likely stuff he’d never wear again!

    1. That’s great! That’s one of the hard things about Halloween costumes — they seem to go up in cost. All you need is a little creativity and a thrift store, though!

      1. Learning to sew can really work out as well. Both my and Mrs. SPF’s Mom’s are very sewers (seamstresses?) and made costumes for us growing up. Mrs. SPF is hoping to learn more clothing creation clothes.

  3. My wife and I put a small amount of money out of each check into our clothing budget, and when there is enough there to spend a decent amount, we hit all of the thrift stores in the metro area. We’re usually able to get our children’s clothes for the next 5-6 months for less than $50. This isn’t the ratty stuff either! They’re wearing designer clothing for 10% of the cost. It’s a no-brainer for us. I stopped worrying about what people thought of the idea when we slashed our monthly clothing budget by about 100% Good post!

  4. Thrift stores are a great source of saving money easily on a lot of stuff of daily use.
    There are many things that we can buy used rather than buying new one. I have seen that sometimes I can find used stuff but it looks like as a brand new and surely it saves me a lot of money.

  5. I use thrift stores mostly for bread machines that I clean, test, and resell. I do find other things. An item from the Dollar Tree had a $1 sticker from the store, but the thrift store tag was $5. An antique was marked $2, easily worth $50. At yard sales I find the best deals.

  6. I bought many of my appliances, household items and tools at a thrift store near my rental properties. Not only that it costs cheaper, but some of the items I got were good as new. Not bad if you can make a profit from it :-)

  7. I’m not much of a consumer as it is but think it’s important to prioritise resuse over recycling and feel more emphasis should be put on this. Luckily a lot of the stigma that used to exist with buying second hand seems to be melting away in recent years.

  8. I shop at thrift stores, and I also volunteer at one. Yes, the prices can be a bit wonky, so you do need to watch, especially (as mentioned) on stuff that you would be better to buy new at a dollar store. (Unless you just want to support whatever charity runs the thrift store.) But generally (at least at our store) the managers set the pricing guidelines, and the volunteers just follow them. And as someone pointed out, the prices do go down if nobody buys the stuff. Each week at our store we price with a different colour, and two other colours (from previous weeks) go on sale.

    I’ve bought all kinds of stuff at thrift stores (not just the one where I work). Clothes, many many books (we homeschool), fabric and craft supplies, seasonal decorations, baskets, and our current slow cooker. I just finished making a rag doll out of a (thrifted) pillowcase, with (thrifted) yarn hair and an outfit made out of (thrifted) clothing. Photos on our blog if you want to see (click signature).

    1. That is a very cool (thrifted) doll Mama Squirrel! I really like the idea of re-use, even if it means spending a buck or 2 more at the thrift store. And as you mention, many of these stores directly support charities in our communities.

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  12. We use consignment stores for maternity clothes and baby supplies. We avoid thrift stores in this area because they are so smoke filled. The consignment stores, for some reason don’t have this problem.

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