Choose secondhand sweaters
Whether you're trying to resurrect stripy grunge-chic or going for something a little more au courant, buying secondhand sweaters is an act of eco-aware consumerism that helps the earth breathe a bit easier.
Whether your motivation stems from the simple thrill of finding a bargain or from fashion-driven philanthropy, choosing a secondhand clothes.
How to choose secondhand sweaters
- Pick a charity. Organizations such as the secular Goodwill and the Christian-based The Salvation Army operate ubiquitous thrift stores that generate a large part of their inventory from donations and direct revenues to charitable causes, such as career training for the disadvantaged and disaster relief. If there's a charity or cause you're interested in supporting, investigate to see if an affiliated thrift store exists and start there.
- Buy, sell, trade. For-profit consignment stores and vintage/designer clothing resale shops that function on a buy/sell/trade basis are goldmines for scoring desirable (and maybe designer) secondhand sweaters. It's more likely that sweaters sold at these stores are of higher quality than those found at run-of-the-mill thrift stores. That's because for-profit consignment and designer resale shops are typically selective and employ fashion buyers to choose between the good, the bad, and the ugly. The rejects from these stores are generally given to charity.
- Make a plan of attack, keep your options open, and don't get frustrated. Vintage and used clothing shopping — especially when you're after the ultimate in vintage European sports jumpers or a finely weathered red and black striped cardigan — is often based on pure dumb luck. Our picks are examples of both charitable and for-profit stores that are good places to start a search. If they don't yield results, keep trying. The thrill of the chase and the eventual capture is part of vintage shopping's inherent appeal.
- Look elsewhere. If a musty thrift store doesn't appeal to you, there are other options: Garage and yard sales, auctions, flea markets, rummage sales, and clothing swaps are all potential jackpots. Often the best finds are hiding in the most unlikely places — you never know what woolen diamonds-in-the-rough you'll stumble upon at the rummage sale sponsored by your great aunt's retirement home.
- Use common sense. Don't buy 50 sweaters you'll never wear just because they cost $5. Check for tears, holes, stains, or other damage before you buy. Wash the clothing after you purchase it. And to make your thrift experience completely eco-friendly, bring your own shopping bag.
- For additional guidance on the art of shopping secondhand, The Sideroad offers helpful tips.
Find it! Used clothing shops and thrift stores
Find it! Thrift and resale store resources
Peruse these excellent resources when seeking a local charity-driven thrift or clothing resale store.
Choosing secondhand sweaters helps you go green because…
- When you buy new clothing, sustainable or not, there will be some attached environmental impact, whether it comes from the transport of bamboo fiber from China to a manufacturer in Canada or from the pesticide-heavy treatment of conventional cotton. By purchasing a used sweater or other article of clothing there are few, if any, environmental repercussions.
- When you buy used clothing it's no longer in a state of recycling limbo. Your purchase is the only fool-proof way to ensure that it doesn't eventually enter a landfill.
- When you purchase an article of clothing from a thrift shop operated by a charitable organization, you are contributing directly to a social cause, sometimes even an environmental one. Many for-profit thrift stores are also associated with altruistic groups and causes.
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