The Art of Thrifting

Tips and tricks to thrift, and the impact of the clothing industry on our environment

Staff Writer
Arts and Culture Editor

Samantha Convey_HBA English and History. PC: Sarah McPherson

For the majority of people living in the world today, clothing is a necessity. Fashion standards seem to be at an all-time high and trends are changing on the daily. As one starts to “adult” more and more, clothing needs naturally begin to change. Now raise your hand if you’re a broke student with no money for an extravagant wardrobe! Same. I’m here to tell you that there is a rather obvious solution to this dilemma. Ladies and gentlemen and all non-binary, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of thrift shopping.
When it comes to “thrifting” there’s often hesitation. Many feel wary about wearing someone else’s clothes, although once your haul has gone though your trusty washing machine, it’s usually quite safe. Others find the process (or art, if you will) of thrift shopping to be intimidating and sometimes even discouraging. But here’s something to chew on that may make you feel a little ore encouraged to buy used clothing:

The reality is that in Ontario, 85% of perfectly good but unwanted clothes end up in landfills. Let me repeat that for the people in the back, only 15% of unwanted clothes are recycled and everything else is THROWN OUT. How wasteful is that? In fact, the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world next to oil. Not to mention the immense use of water and energy used to make fabric for our clothing. According to the Natural Resources Defense council, it takes 200 tons to produce only one ton of fabric.

Jacqueline Dyck_HB Political Science. PC: Sarah McPherson

The NRDC also states that in parts of the world that are active hubs for production factories for clothing retail, environmental regulation is nearly non-existent. Chemicals and other hazardous materials are dumped into bodies of water without appropriate treatment ultimately contaminating and devastating water supply and agricultural farms.

However, water pollution is not the only part of this ginormous problem. Unspeakable amounts of energy are needed to produce the hot water and steam required to dye fabric. Another example of immense energy consumption comes from some of those worn looks found on brand new pairs of jeans. Distressed jeans and clothing relies on manual sandblasting, ripping, and scrunching, or a colour-fading process that uses toxic chemicals. So next time you find yourself reaching for distressed jeans, keep in mind how distressed our planet is.

Okay, so we get it: the fashion industry needs to make some drastic changes in their production ways before it is too late. But what can you do in the mean time to lessen your ecological footprint? THRIFT.

Kaarina Kotanen_Visual Arts_1st Year. PC: Sarah McPherson

Luckily for you, Savanah at The Argus has been hard at work collecting tips and tricks from local thrift-shopping semi-pros to get you out there and looking like you have it all together.

1. Don’t limit yourself to one store. Thunder Bay has more to offer in the thrift store department than just Value Village and The Salvation Army (as awesome as they both are).
2. Give yourself a good block of time to do your thing. Unless you have x-ray vision and can see through the vast amount of things hanging on the racks, you usually have to go through almost everything on them. So you want to make sure you have a reasonable amount of time to go through the store(s).
3. Extend beyond horizons in terms of your usual size. Always assume that the different size sections are lying to you. Every store has a different idea of what a size should be, and a thrift store’s definition of any size is generally much more broad. As a result, you’ll most likely find something that fits in pretty much every section!

4. All local thrifting semi-pros concede that the men’s section is where it’s at, no matter who you are. If you’re into oversized sweaters, comfy outerwear, or stylish vintage finds, menswear is the place to be.

Julia Dipaolo_HB Commerce, 4th Year. PC: Sarah McPherson

5. Take your friends! Whatever kind of shopping you’re doing, taking friends usually makes it way more bearable. The bonus with thrift shopping is for every awesome piece you find, you’ll find an equally ridiculous one, which generally make for superb embarrassing photos to keep in your back pocket.
6. Ask about a student discount! Not every store will have one *cough cough* Value Village, but a lot of the time certain stores will offer a discount to post-secondary students on certain days of the week, which is always appreciated.
7. Check out the non-clothing sections of the store. You can always find incredibly useful (or odd) things in those sections. Need 200 sheets of lined paper for 50 cents? You’ll find it there. Into music? Most thrift shops have an excellent selection of CDs and records for super cheap prices.

Thrifting is an excellent way to spice up your wardrobe without spiking your debt. Being sustainably chic is all the rage right now and according to our sources, these beginner tips and tricks are the way to get there. So get out there and be that frugal, stylish, put-together, badass you were always meant to be.

Still not convinced? Look. At. These. People. Some of LU’s finest showing off their best thrifted look. So grunge chic it kills.

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