Thrifting

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Thrifting

Senior Mayana Bonaparte examines a second hand coat.

Senior Mayana Bonaparte examines a second hand coat.

Senior Mayana Bonaparte examines a second hand coat.

Senior Mayana Bonaparte examines a second hand coat.

By Jeannine Englander

Senior Mayana Bonaparte examines a second hand coat.

Walking into a thrift store, I’m always greeted with the familiar smell of old books mixed with musty suitcases, maybe a hint of mildew. This scent has become nostalgic for me. I grew up spending a lot of time “thrifting” with my mom.

In middle school, I was often embarrassed to buy secondhand and didn’t want anyone to know that what I was wearing wasn’t bought at Nordstrom or a local store downtown. Mayana Bonapart, a senior, recalls, “In middle school when I was self-conscious, I was taken to the “in” stores and got expensive clothes that were ruined in two weeks.”

As high school rolled around, I found myself spending a lot more time perusing the aisles of my local thrift stores, and finding my peers in the same stores. These days, almost everyone I know rummages around at secondhand stores in our area.

“I love thrifting and going to real rummage stores. It’s good because it’s really inexpensive and you can get clothes that not everyone else has, not some Urban Outfitters shirt that five other girls own,” said senior Brianna Berger.

Not only is buying second hand fun, but it also helps solve waste problems. According to earth911.com, the average average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing per year. Clothes and textiles make up 4 percent of municipal solid waste streams and 5 percent of landfills. 99 percent of what is thrown away every year can be recycled. As for second hand purchases, each American only purchases about 10 pounds of recycled clothing per year. People who did buy used clothing helped saved 2.5 billion pounds of clothes from dumpsters in 2006.

“The last two years have been incredible for us, because of the recent financial downturn we have been getting a lot more customers,” says Carol, a volunteer at the Mt. Carmel thrift store. “We get the whole range of people, from teenagers to moms with their kids, to older people.” Carol said.

As for the demand, it’s higher than ever. “Demand has gone up, but the quality of some of the donations has gone down. We are lucky to live in such an affluent community—we get stuff with price tags still on items that were only worn once or twice!”

Not only will one be helping the environment by shopping second hand, but most thrift stores are also non-profit, and donate to charities or other programs. “Once a week we donate clothing to Lifehouse, and we also donate blankets and books to the Humane Society on a regular basis. All of our profits go to the Catholic Church, and we also have a box for the homeless.” said Carol.

The Discovery Shop, in the same shopping center as the Whole Foods on East Blithedale, donates all their profits to the American Cancer Society. The bigger thrift-store chains, like Goodwill and The Salvation Army use their profits for job-training programs and Adult Rehabilitation Programs.

“People think [thrift stores] will be gross and old,” says Hannah Berman, senior, “but there’s a lot of cool stuff out there. You have to keep an open mind and look carefully, and you will find something. There’s already enough clothing out there to go around, you might as well save money and not be wasteful.”

First time thrifters should be patient though. “Don’t shop by labels. Shop by comfort and originality. And always remember to wash what you buy before you wear it!” Bonapart said.