Key Messages

1. Mass Consumption is a Global Issue

2. Thrifting Fosters Many Positive Changes:

Thrifting is Saving.

There is a faulty belief that there is a paradox in thrift -- many believe that thrifting has the potential to further negatively affect the current economy and expand society's current recessional state by refusing to spend as they 'typically' would. David Blankenhorn of the New York Times remarks, "It's never an act of patriotism for individuals or families to buy stuff they cannot afford. Whether it's rainy or sunny outside, saving a portion of one's income for future use is always a wise idea. There is nothing paradoxical about these concepts." (26) In agreeance with Blankenhorn, our project aims to eliminate any negative preceonceived notions of feelings of skepticism others may have toward thrift shopping. Thrift shopping is a healthy and largely beneficial practice and there's no tricks or secrets about it -- by thrifting, you save!
Over the years, it is undeniable that we associate North Americans with the overall notion of consumption. "Historically, North Americans were seen as puritans, thrifty and hardworking. But a change in economic conditions began to get Americans spending. Credit expanded dramatically in the last three decades. The inflation of the 1970s left people worried that their savings could be wiped out. And a series of government policies and programs subsidized debt and expenditure and did nothing to reward savings" (Zakaria 20). Zakaria illustrates how mass consumption, and how it has colosally become a part of North American culture, is something that evolved over time. The history of this continent is tied to elements that contrast with excessive spending (as Zakaria pointed out), and thus, it is more than possible to unitedly try to bring it back to a state thriftiness and diligence. We are extremely fortunate that today's society is saturated with an endless number of thrift, secondhand, vintage, and consignment stores that are filled with clothing, bags, footwear, home appliances and decor, etc., in which we are given infinite opportunities to SAVE. Now we must seize the opportunity.

Thrifting Helps the Environment.

According to the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, "There is an average of seven kilograms of textile waste (clothes, bedding, curtains, etc.) per person in landfills throughout Canada," (2009) and "Textile waste accounts for more than 4% of materials in Canada's landfills" (2009). It is encouraged by Environment Canada to forward any used or old clothing to local non-profit groups so that they may recycle and reuse them.
By thrifting in order to obtain everyday attire and clothing, we are also reducing the amount of excessive textile waste that is exponentially accumulating in landfills across the nation. When we thrift shop, we retrieve clothing or other items that would otherwise have been forwarded to a landfill.
Today's culture and society has become increasingly obsessed with constantly getting the lastest, greatest, updated, and newest items on the market; thus, we are constantly getting rid of our old and outdated possessions. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, when we simply throw away these used items that we no longer want, instead of giving then to an organization or secondhand store that will reuse or resell the items, we will eventually further contribute to the excessive waste harming the Earth that further generations will eventually be surrounded by.
The most wise and beneficial decision would be to donate any unwanted clothing or products to organizations that will either give them to those in need or recycle the items in secondhand stores and resell them -- As you can see, there are two essential ways we can contribute positively when it comes to the environment by means of thrifting: One, pass on and donate any products we no longer desire to non-profit organizations or secondhand stores that will resell the items. Two, take a break from taking the almost-daily trip to the local shopping mall; instead, visit a nearby secondhand, thrift or consignment store and purchase those items instead. By contributing to either or both of these practices, we will be generating a new cycle where less will be wasted as more is reused, and thus we can evoke positive change for the future of the Earth and its environment.

Thrifting Depicts a Consciousness of Global Labour Issues.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to think before you buy! For instance, two items that you purchase and give you the same satisfaction, "don't always have the same social and ecological impact" (Young Reporters For the Environment 2009). Our everyday shopping and consumption that we often do passively, generates immense profits for large firms. When we buy any given product, we are helping its manufacturer exist and thrive as a company, which in turn, "approves the working conditions and environment of its employees, supporting its production modes... etc." (YRFE 2009).
It is more than necessary to always seek answers, information, knowledge, and force ourselves to gain awareness and in turn help raise awareness of those around us. We must refuse to consume passively, and thrifting is a practice that may be incorporated into one's everyday life which depicts a lifestyle of consciousness, diligence, and awareness of what mass consumption truly entails on a mass scale. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), "there are approximately 250 million working children aged between five and fourteen, of which at least 120 million are involved in full-time work that is both hazardous and exploitative. Such labor is spread through the developing world" (Palley 601). This harsh reality is something that we, spectators and contributors of mass consumption, often hold a blind eye toward; we depict a mentality of, "what you don't know can't hurt you". The overwhelming truths of labour conditions in third world countries is driven by the the contributions made by excessive spending and mass production in developed countries.
As citizens of this greatly developed nation, we must incorporate the practice and cycle of donating and thrifting into our everyday lives. By doing so, we maintain a fundamental awareness of the effects of our everyday actions, that are much more impactful than they seem on the surface, such as buying mass produced products on a very frequent basis. Thrifting reduces the immense and direct impact mass consumption has on the harsh working conditions that prevail in developing countries.

Works Cited:

Palley, Thomas I. "The Child Labor Problem and the Need for International Labor Standards." Journal Of Economic Issues 36.3 (2002): 601. JSTOR. Web. 25 Nov. 2009. <>.

"Responsible Consumption." Young Reporters for the Environment. Web. 25 Nov. 2009. <>.

"The Way We Save: There's No Paradox in Thrift." The New York Times 158.54590 (2009):A26.

"Used Clothing Facts." Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy. Web. 26 Nov. 2009.

Zakaria, Fareed "Get Out the Wallets." Newsweek 154.6/7 (2009): 20. Corporate ResourceNet. EBSCO. Web. 26 Nov. 2009.