elizabeth cline
Secondhand Sustainable Style Textile Waste

Thrift Shopping for Clothes Is On the Rise Among Millennials

Every year in the United States, more than 11 million tons of clothes go into landfills — the equivalent in weight of 33 Empire State Buildings. This is true insanity considering that clothing is almost 100% recyclable or reusable! What can any of us do about this? Shop secondhand, of course! In addition, we can all make sure to donate and recycle unwanted clothes and never toss them into the trash.

This year, in honor of National Thrift Store Day, I went through some recent clothing donations at my job as Director or Research and Reuse at Wearable Collections. This is the outfit I came up with in just a few minutes. It’s not necessarily something I would wear out of the house, but I love that shopping secondhand can provide an affordable way to come up with one-ok-a-kind looks and to experiment with style. In fact about 85% of my wardrobe is secondhand.

It seems we are at a turning point and secondhand shopping is picking up steam. We know now that Millennials are the first generation in a long time to be more willing to shop secondhand that their predecessors, Gen X. In fact, almost a third of all Millennials report shopping secondhand in the past year. And the word is spreading that shopping secondhand is a boon for the environment. Helping the planet is the number one motivating factor for thrift shopping among young people.

Thankfully it’s getting easier than ever to find gently used on trend clothes, and it’s all because of online disrupters like TheRealReal, thredUP, Poshmark and and of course eBay. These sites have taken the slog out of finding secondhand gems. They have thousands of new items added each day and they’re searchable by size, brand, color, style and condition. Click a button and your item shows up at your door in a matter of days. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment. More American shoppers are waking up to the fact that there’s no reason to shop for brand new low-quality clothes in discount stores when they can buy high quality and brand name goods that are gently used on any of these websites. The word is out and thrifting is on the rise. Happy National Thrift Store Day!