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6 Easy Things to Thrift to Live More Sustainably

by Meredith Labuda

Picture of a sign with an arrow that says thrift shop
Image Source: Shutterstock

We’re over a month into the new year, and, hopefully that means we’ve all been working on our New Year's resolutions for over a month.

This may be the point when you realize that your resolutions are not attainable, that you bit off more than you can chew. Lucky for you, there is one resolution that you can easily accomplish this year: dressing more sustainably.

Thrifting is an easy way to start on this resolution. However, thrift stores don’t always carry the cutest of clothes. If you want a new top for a concert, a thrift store is probably not the place to go. However, you can almost always thrift the basics. Some things just never go out of style, and as a result, they completely fill up Goodwills everywhere.

Here are some basics that are easy to always thrift!

1. Baggy Jeans

picture of a stack of 5 pairs of folded jeans with different shades of blue
Image Source: Pexels - Karolina Grabowska

Now I know that the pants racks at thrift stores can be a bit scary, but trust me when I say that you can find some good jeans at thrift stores. I’ve actually found skinny jeans at a thrift store, but that was honestly a miracle. It’s more likely that you’ll find some baggy jeans while thrifting.

I recommend trying on a few pairs that are in a few different sizes until you find your perfect fit. But with some perseverance and a bit of luck, you too can find a pair of American Eagle jeans for $20 or less at your local thrift store.

2. Plain T-shirts

Everyone needs a plain black and white tee in their closet (to go with the new jeans you just got from the thrift store!). If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s plain t-shirts. Thrift stores have racks full of plain shirts and tank tops that are every color of the rainbow. And usually, tee shirts from years ago tend to be better quality than the flimsy, delicate materials that clothes are made out of now. Plus, you could easily cut them yourself to create the perfect cropped shirt. Next time you’re in need of a plain white tee, hit up your favorite thrift stores.

3. Sweaters

This past fall I thrifted a grand total of four new sweaters! I didn’t need new sweaters, but the sweaters I found at thrift stores were just so much more detailed and unique than anything I could find at my local retail stores. Not only that, but I found quality sweaters from brands like J. Crew for less than $20.

Many sweaters are made of wool and cotton, with wool being the more sustainable fabric choice (it is one step lower on the impact scale than cotton). But going secondhand means impact is reduced - no matter what the fabric. Plus you may find something more unique!

4. Athletic Wear

Everyone needs some athletic wear in their closet, and this is coming from a girl who never works out. Whether you go camping, get invited to a cycling class, or just go on a walk, the time will come when you wish you had a razor-back tank and a pair of leggings. And if you want to get them for a good price, thrifting is your best bet.

Athletic jackets, tank tops, and shorts absolutely devour thrift stores, and they’re waiting for you to take them home. They’re in every color and style you could ever imagine. So the next time you’re out thrifting and in need of new athletic wear, just try on a tank top and a pair of hot pink athletic shorts. I can almost bet they’ll be your best thrifting find yet.

5. Blazers

picture of a woman wearing a white shirt and pink blazer
Image Source: Shutterstock

I know I mentioned earlier that thrift stores can have some outdated clothes, but in the case of blazers, this could be to your advantage. Blazers have always been in style, but they’ve come in different styles that can likely all be found in your local thrift store.

From the sharp shoulders of the 80s to the tight and fitted style of the early 2000s, the blazer opportunities are endless. I’ve even found full pantsuits in my local thrift store. If you’re in the mood for a more unique blazer to add to your wardrobe, go see what your favorite store has in store for you.

6. Costumes

Picture of elaborate costume masks
Image Source: Unsplash - Llanydd Lloyd

Now we all know that sometimes thrift stores have strange clothes, clothes that you would pass on any regular shopping trip. But when it’s Halloween, or Spirit Week, or you have a costume party to go to, thrift stores may just be your best friend. You can find simple dresses or shirts to personalize for a costume.

After your event, you could use the clothes as material and cut them up to make something new. You could find unique hats or shoes. You could come across a strange robe or dress. The possibilities are endless. For a last-minute costume, your local thrift store may just be your best bet.


Shopping sustainably is just as important in 2023 as ever, and thrifting is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact and save money.

Thrifting isn’t always easy, but you can search your local thrift store to find these basic pieces for your wardrobe. If you want additional ideas on what to thrift or how to style thrift buys, there are some great (and funny) YouTube videos. In this video, Paige Heuer shows her 2023 winter thrift trips and everything she picked up.

Affordable sustainable clothing start with thrifting. Even just doing half of your shopping sustainably will make a difference.

This year, make a resolution that will save the planet and your wallet!



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