The other day I was driving on my normal route home from work in when Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” came on my car radio. The 2012 hit made it clear, profanities excluded here: by shopping Goodwill Macklemore is “saving [his] money,” while those who pay “fifty dollars for a t-shirt” are “getting tricked by business.” Undeniably, Goodwill helps the world and helps your wardrobe. But lest I get into a full breakdown of his lyrics, I’m going to instead share with you guys the reasons to shop at Goodwill that Macklemore fails to mention (I mean, the song is only four minutes!).
HELPING THE WORLD
With only “twenty dollars in my pocket” (I promise this is last of the lyrics), I know I can shop Goodwill and help my local Arkansas community and the global community. While a dress I pick off a rack at a regular retail store had to travel hundreds to thousands of miles to get to me, any dress I select at Goodwill came from one of my Arkansas neighbors. But why should I care? Well, all those miles of travel waste a whole lot of energy. And while that energy is being wasted, coal and natural gases are also polluting the planet just so I can have a specific dress.
By shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores, I know my carbon footprint is a little smaller because I’m able to reuse items that have already come over from far away countries and don’t need to continue traveling far. If a lot more people did this, there would be decreased demand and decreased production of these products abroad. I know that just sounds like a lot of economics talk that could bore you to tears, but think about it this way: when you buy a previously-owned dress at Goodwill, you give that piece a forever home instead of it ending up in a landfill.
Think of Goodwill as a dog pound for clothes: all the puppies are just as cute as puppies from a pet store; they’re just in extra-need of an owner. And like dogs, some Goodwill clothes too, might need a little more tender love and care, but then they are as good as new.
But besides helping the puppies—I mean clothes—you are also helping people. In Arkansas, you’re helping other Arkansans to get education, training, and employment. And abroad, you’re helping by not contributing to big corporations that inhumanely treat their workers.
HELPING YOUR WARDROBE
By shopping in Goodwill stores, you’re of course helping the world, but you’re also helping your own wardrobe. As Macklemore mentioned, he walks into the club and he’s the only one wearing that particular t-shirt. There’s no game of “who wore it best” because you’re likely wearing something that isn’t even being manufactured anymore. And this vintage look is trendy as ever with 90's crop tops and chokers and 70's fringe and flared pants making a comeback.
But even the non-trendy pieces, the classic wardrobe basics, can all be found at Goodwill. Basics should last you for decades, and only at thrift stores can you get well-made clothing for a reasonable price. Of course I love Forever 21 because they’re always on top of the latest looks, but fast fashion shops don’t make stuff that is built to last. I’m pretty sure I’ve looked at a Forever 21 necklace and broke the thing. But when you take the time to find clothing items that were well-made in an environmentally-sustainable way, you’re taking fashion seriously.
And although I have to make some jokes with rap lyrics, what you put on your body is no joke. Like Anne Lappé said, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” So while, of course, you can still have the occasional impulse buy, try to put your best foot forward in some eco-chic shoes.