Is it unethical to shop at a thrift store if you don’t need too?

  1. So much better. Fast fashion is ending up in landfills or worse getting shipped to Africa where first world countries trash becomes someone else's problems

  2. I do commend OP for bringing up this question because a lot of people don't consider the broader ethical questions surrounding thrifted clothing and just assume there are no downsides.

  3. Macklemore was right. Go down to the thrift ship, get yourself some cheap clothes, spending $50 for a t-shirt for its brand label is stupid, you can get something just as good for $1 at the thrift shop.

  4. Shopping at thrifts stores also keep them in business and keep the people working there employed. This benefits the whole community.

  5. This. I donate to a goodwill by my house because I hate throwing things away that someone else may be able to use. I also shop there because they have some good used stuff. Save some money and recycle at the same time.

  6. YES, thrifting and charity are different. I’d say it’s unethical to eat at food banks if you don’t need to, and leave it for people who do need it, but thrifting to me is more about recycling than it is “saving money”. Saving money is a bonus, but the primary benefit is keeping good items out of the landfills. I understand some people don’t like secondhand clothes, but you can thrift for furniture and tons of other stuff. Why buy a cheap new table for the same price as a solid table at a thrift? Otherwise both will just end up in the trash.

  7. Most of them are money makers for charities...which sort of makes them charities but not in the way I guess some folks are thinking. They do not solely exist to enable less advantaged folks to find decent consumer goods at 2nd hand prices. Many exist to make money to support community organizations that have a hard time generating revenue in other ways. All the more reason we need to patronize them. Where I live we have multiple thrift stores for schools, hospices, community outreach, etc.

  8. Worked at a thrift shop before. We have way way too many shit. Thrift shops sometimes still throw away a shit ton. At least the one I work at. Some are legit unsellable but still. We've given some to charity but even then some get thrown out because even charities don't want it. (We worked closely with charities and contrary to belief, no, homeless people don't want a shirt with holes in it just because its free)

  9. Not quite. Lots of thrift stores are getting too much fast fashion items cough cough shein couuuuughhh and it's either not selling or there is too much to supply. So it ends up in some thrift store outlets which sells by weight but even then things that don't sell get tossed.

  10. I agree. Plus where do you think a lot of sellers find that one of a kind rock shirt they charge $60 for plus shipping and handling on ebay?

  11. Just because it hasn't been said yet, if you want to even out the karma just be sure to donate things as well. You no doubt have clothes that are nice condition, donate them and keep the sharing system going.

  12. The arguments I've heard from people is that there's a limited amount of items in a thrift store, and so by rich people who could buy that stuff new buying up the thrift shop's inventory of that thing it makes it unavailable for someone more strapped for cash.

  13. I knew people who made half a million dollars a year and almost exclusively shopped for clothes at thrift stores.

  14. This doesn't mean much but I hope you're soon able to escape poverty, and I hope someday society as a whole will stop forcing poverty as well :/

  15. Shopping there regardless of your income is a good idea. There’s no sense in throwing money away, or constantly purchasing newly manufactured clothes when there’s already millions of previously made articles of clothing available. You can do your part to keep the store going by donating your own unneeded items! Most thrift stores accept a wide variety of clothing and home goods.

  16. The equivalent in the UK would be charity shops (where a large chunk of the money made from sales goes to their charity - often the workers in them are volunteers) - and no, of course it’s not.

  17. It's good for anyone to shop at thrift stores, and especially for clothes they typically get way more than they can handle and even have to stop taking donations sometimes. Shopping at these places help keep them open, and buying used instead of new means less new items need made, so it's good for the environment too.

  18. One of our local thrift shops, gives away clothes and some household goods to the needy. The rent is covered by people who actually spend cash. Besides, believe it or not , thrift stores sometimes get too much stuff as well, and toss it. As a 17 yr old, (unless you are a trust fund baby) probably are not financially set for life yet. Thrifting is a fantastic way to spend a fraction on your clothes budget.

  19. I make a very decent living. I shop at thrift stores for clothes I wear to work. Why? I work in a factory. Any crap I get it on old clothes, I don’t mind. There’s nothing wrong with it. Your money just goes towards keeping the store alive.

  20. No, you're fine. Nobody is going to suffer if you buy the last band shirt. But if you're so worried, make sure to donate your things to them once you're finished using them.

  21. No, its not only for the cheap prices, but also shopping at thrift stores is better for the environment. Since stuff is getting re-used, instead of going to landfill.

  22. Plus, if there are people at all income levels in the shop, there is less prejudice against people who shop there, like there was years ago.

  23. You should shop at thrift stores even if you don't need to so the store can receive more business and stay in business longer. The more people who but from them the more they can help those who really need it

  24. No it’s not, for more reasons than you’d likely care to read. But if you’re still worried about “depriving” people, then don’t go there until after they’ve been open for an hour. However keep in mind that if you lose out on something, it’s 50/50 at best that you’ll lose out to someone who isn’t poor.

  25. Thrift shops are for everyone. Needed people can afford items. Thrift shops often support good foundation. By buying used items it saves manufacturing pollution. Environmental it is a win win. So enjoy.

  26. The only unethical thrifting I've seen, and something that genuinely upsets me, is the trend of buying plus size clothes to cut up and use for fabric. Plus size clothes are hard to find in thrift stores. Please don't do this.

  27. Not good ones. There’s one near me that has a $5 bag sale regularly, where you can buy a plastic bag full of clothes and as long as the bag will close you get everything in it for $5.

  28. Actually, many places donate some of the clothing they sell to people in need. The Goodwill in my town would give three sets of any clothing to people affiliated with certain organizations. (Obviously they have to keep track to prevent abuse and document the donations.)

  29. Spending money efficiently or frugally isn’t unethical, in fact it’s the best thing you can do with your money. You are afraid of denying a poorer person the opportunity to buy the thing you did. It’s their responsibility to use their money well, not your responsibility.

  30. Shopping at thrift stores is fine. I DO have a problem with people buying shitloads of stuff and then upselling them on eBay/depop/ whatever

  31. Resellers are obnoxious as hell. See them all over the place at conventions, gem shows, flea markets, etc. Like, I’m not gonna say no to a sale, but I’d much rather it go to an end consumer that’s going to enjoy it, not just mark it up. Not surprising because there is money to be made, but it feels counter to the spirit of the event

  32. No, saving money isn't only for poor people. As long as you aren't like, going overboard and buying half the store, there is no issue, it's just a shop with good prices.

  33. By buying from them you are supporting many disabled and handicapped people that do a lot of unseen work in the background

  34. I think it becomes a problem when people start buying stuff from thrift shops and selling them for 10 times or more the price on depop/ online stores. it turns into this nasty hoarding/hustle business

  35. As someone who grew up poor, as long as you aren’t buying things to resell it does not matter. You’re supporting that store and making room for new inventory.

  36. This is an important point. Thrifting a dresser for $60, repainting and selling fo $300 seems a little iffy.

  37. This is such a sweet question. We need people who are as thoughtful as you. I think you’re good to go to a thrift store, you’ll be helping reduce waste. We need as many people as possible going to them tbh!

  38. You are mixing it up with socialmarkets ( dunno the english term) i am pretty sure you won’t want to buy there food over the bbd

  39. There’s a huge surplus of clothing in the world and thrift stores can’t even sell all the clothes that they get. Ideally we would cease producing any clothing for a few years and process our collective immense surplus of textile. Buying any new clothes is, quite frankly, not the most ethical. The idea that there are naked poor people who desperately need anyone’s precious cast-offs has been called the clothing deficit myth. Enjoy yourself at the thrift store.

  40. Thrift stores are for all. They won’t run out of merchandise, you help the planet, and your money often goes towards charitable efforts too.

  41. If you are buying it to use the item, go ahead. I personally think it becomes sketchy if you buy them just to sell it elsewhere and make a profit.

  42. Apparently it’s a pretty big thing for people to get stuff from thrift stores and go put it on depop for some money

  43. I will add on to this and say when their stores also raise the prices because they know people are gonna do that will more name brand stuff

  44. Totally agree - thats where shit gets morally repugnant: Ive seen lots of cats scanning things (cds, records, old stereos etc) on their phone to see whether it will get a decent price on ebay. I fucking hate it.

  45. It’s not unethical to buy from thrift stores. It is unethical to buy from thrift stores and then jack up the price on eBay. The stores have caught on and have jacked up the prices on thrifted clothing meaning that they’re less accessible to the people that actually need the clothing.

  46. What a load of BS. Who put this crazy idea in your head? Thrift stores and secondhand shops are for everyone, not just low-income people.

  47. My gripe with them is people who buy up everything and then mark it up by like 600%. If you aren't doing that then you aren't part of the problem

  48. I do think it's somewhat unethical for a person to have a business which entails buying bulk cheap products at thrift stores, renovating them, then reselling them for a profit. But buying clothes for personal use is great even if you can afford more expensive stuff. It's better for the environment to reuse products, and there are lots of cool finds at thrift stores that you couldn't get now

  49. Not at all. Even when you shop at high end stores, you're often buying from manufacturers with appalling ethics and you're definitely using resources that are a drain on the planet when it's unnecessary. Where have they come from..look into checking your carbon footprint and trying to minimise it. This increases the likelihood that you and any children you have will have a habitable planet to live on with air you can breathe. Look at the zero waste movement. Are you aware of the Pacific garbage patch. It's an area of garbage in the ocean between Hawaii and California, one of many I might add, that's twice the size of Texas. Landfill is running out of space... every piece of plastic that was ever made is still sitting in the Earth, waiting because it's going to take an estimated 50,000 years to break down. So we have to quit buying new things and using vital resources, quit throwing away things that are still useful, throwing away things improperly and using energy, food and everything less wastefully. There's a massive global overpopulation issue...the planet simply cannot sustain the number of people. But everyday more than twice as many people are born than die. The ocean is dying, the poor and oppressed are dying, children are going to bed hungry in our own communities. Thrift shopping can be enjoyable for you and you also get that warm glow of knowing you did something to make a better future. Thankyou.

  50. No. It'd be different if it was purely a charity, but most thrift stores are just second hand stores at this point.

  51. If you do feel guilty, do some research into who runs the thrift store and where those funds are going. I work for a non-profit that has a thrift component and money from the stores help fund our other programs like homeless shelters and reentry programs.

  52. Go to mom and pop thrift stores! Or ones that give back to the community. Theres one in my area that takes the profit and feeds the homeless with it.

  53. No. You're keeping a business going that employs local people. You're also keeping perfectly fine items from just being dumped in a landfill and forgotten

  54. It's more unethical to buy things new, since you contribute to demand to produce more stuff, which adds to pollution, climate change, and worker exploitation. You should always buy things secondhand if possible.

  55. Assuming a thrift store is just what Americans call charity shops? If so, then the point of it is that all profits go to charity. So you shopping there raises money for the charity.

  56. It's literally designed for you to go and spend money on the items that they have been donated, for them to raise money for the more needy.

  57. Why would it be ? In the UK its common for people to donate stuff they don't want. I work in one. People donate stuff they don't want anymore, we sort though it and sell the good stuff. The clothes we steam clean and all sales go to help funding for emergency vets bills !

  58. I’m gonna go with the other commenters who said it’s good for recycling purposes! You can also help out by donating stuff from your house to the thrift store to give back :) heck, there’s been so many times when I’ve bought a bunch of stuff from goodwill and end up not wearing some of it and donate it back five years later lol.

  59. Thrifting isn’t just about cost and affordability, it’s also about textile waste and up cycling clothing so we stop buying it new and wasting resources. It takes a ton of carbon, water and other resources to create ship and manufacture clothes. Thrifting is recycling and reducing our impact in these ways.

  60. Bless you for considering this, esp at the age of 17 and from a privileged background!! Well done to you for being so thoughtful and considerate. But yes it’s defo all good to shop there

  61. No, not only are you showing fiscal responsibility, you would also be helping reuse items that might end up in a landfill otherwise. As for other people needing to have the items you’re buying, they have the opportunity to find them first! Plus now you know where to take anything that is still in good working order that you may not have a use for in the future! Or clothing that your family has outgrown or just don’t want to wear anymore (as long as you have permission to donate it) as well as helping your community!

  62. They need money to stay in business. They love for rich people to come in and buy a bunch of shit. It makes sure the poor people can still shop there.

  63. Charity shops arent shops that act as charities, they're shops where all the proceeds go to charities more or less. Its like a fundraiser.

  64. Reusing clothes, furniture and other items is the best form of recycling. Fewer new things need be made wasting earths precious resources. The planet wins.

  65. I think this is a misunderstanding many people have. Thrift shops are not typically intended for people that cant afford to buy new, but rather raise funds for those that are in need. Now this is not all shops but most are basically fundraisers for charities and organizations, and some to provide jobs. That said some are just to help provide options for those that cant afford things but thats normally small independent shops and easy to identify by things being extremely cheap, talking 50 cent shirts, free books and things like that (even then they still need you to shop to help keep them open!).

  66. It is no more “unethical “ to shop at thrift stores if you can afford to shop elsewhere than it is to buy a Hyundai if you can afford a Mercedes…. Or eat at McDonald’s if you can afford to eat at 5 star restaurants…

  67. Hell no they’d appreciate the money to keep the shop afloat, it’s recycling at its best :) If anything it keeps the stores alive so vulnerable people can continue to shop and people will always keep donating new things.

  68. No it's not unethical, it's literally why they are there. Just like any business, if you don't shop there then they go out of business and all those preloved clothes go to garbage. Even the charity ran ones, the money you spend goes to pay employees (not all employees are volunteers), rent and a small amount goes to the charity.

  69. Buying used items is always more ethical than buying new items. I have worked at several thrift shops and they all desperately want anyone and everyone to shop there. It doesn't matter how much money you have, no one is checking.

  70. I don't know how well your parents are money wise, but their money isn't your money. Best learn how to be frugal now than later

  71. There’s no objective answer to ethical questions, you’re just getting a bunch of peoples opinions. Make up your own mind.

  72. I'd say it's more ethical than buying new because you're helping to recycle perfectly good items and not giving money to the big box stores.

  73. no, otherwise they'd be out of business. they aren't charities, they have more inventory than they could ever possibly hope to sell

  74. It's more ethical to buy used clothing than new clothing. Reusing clothes is much better for the environment, as many new clothes are made with plastics that are NOT biodegradable.

  75. No I think it's unethical to buy any single thing brand new that you could have bought second hand. All of society needs to consume less, fix and reuse more, stop generating waste.

  76. Nope! Just being smart with your money and helping a business going!!! I LOVE the random shit I have found at the thrift store. I have done this so much now I got my oldest who is in middle school, if she wants clothes she likes to ask if we go to a thrift store first.

  77. As someone who didn't grow up with a lot of money and still doesn't have much, go for it. It's not for just struggling people. It would only make you an asshoke if you went there just to find semi expensive items and resell them , but even then, it's your right to do so.

  78. No it’s not unethical and it’s also not unethical to buy clothes larger than your size, because you know how many of the clothes in thrift stores still end up in trash? A lot okay so dont worry this debate started on tiktok or somewhere and it is so fucking stupid. Thrift stores are waaaaaay better for the world than buying a top from Shein.

  79. You're perfectly welcome to shop at thrift shops whenever you feel like it.. If you feel like you need a justification, you can always say it's for ecological reasons by reducing waste and/or to avoid supporting sweat shops.

  80. I’d say no, because you’re helping them by shopping there, which is the case for any business. If one has the means, they can research local charities which help people in poverty, and donate to those charities.

  81. I think it mostly fine. But I get what you mean. You are probably a better person then most for even asking yourself that question. I think the people who buy toys and hunt at goodwill just to resell stuff on eBay are kinda assholes. especially during holiday season.

  82. What I find to be somewhat unethical are the vintage resellers that clear out the jeans section just to resell them for 5x as much. It's already hard enough to find not beat up 42x40 jeans at the thrift store.

  83. Unethical? That's silly, dude. By shopping from thrift store not only you're supporting the store owner but also help the environment by purchasing used goods and in the process reducing carbon footprint

  84. I think it only becomes unethical if you’re gouging the nearest goodwill for items to resell on a site like depop. If you’re going to wear/use the items, no harm no foul.

  85. I agree with almost everyone else here, with one caveat. I do think it's unethical to buy formal wear, especially dresses (very individual taste and hard to find one that fits you) at thrift stores. In those cases, you're taking away what could be the only option someone has so you can save some money. There will always be t-shirts and sweaters at thrift stores. There may not be a nice dress for someone's school dance or wedding, and you buying it could be the difference for someone truly in need.

  86. Maybe. There was a time when my wife had to rely on Goodwill for her clothing. (Newly divorced, 2 kids, deadbeat ex). New stuff arrived every Wednesday. And every Wednesday the town's Doctor's wife would show up and buy all the best women's clothing. Neither my wife nor anyone else in town cold buy nice clothes. So if you can legit afford to buy stuff elsewhere, leave the "good" stuff for others. Otherwise shopping there to give them some business is great.

  87. Go thrifting with your girlfriend, damnit! Take her to the flea market! Find some consignment stores! Being well off doesn't mean you have to needlessly spend more money. In fact, the best way to stay well off is to save money wherever you see fit.

  88. The only thing I would say is maybe don't be buying massive hauls of things you mostly won't wear. Aside from that, everyone should shop at a thrift store, and I say that as someone who got most of their clothes through childhood at thrift stores.

  89. I have kind of mixed views on it. It’s not “wrong” as such, these guys need to sell things and make money and you are helping out with that.

  90. As long as you're not one of those people who's buying plus sized clothes to tailor down for smaller frames you're good, that's one of the few kinds of clothing that doesn't end up massively overstocked at those places, and it's often so hard for plus-sized poor people to buy clothes that fit them in the first place.

  91. Help the environment. Help the store There’s tons of hand me downs. Maybe leave the really unique nice stuff for others if you really can afford it yourself? But it’ll come around again

  92. It is fine to shop at a thrift store, no matter what your economic situation is. Matter of fact, I think it is good to shop there, because it makes it more socially acceptable and brings more visibility and profit to the store.

  93. The purpose of these is to repurpose used items and is not just for low SES individuals. So definitely not. You'll likely find some gems there if you're lucky

  94. Same thing. Used to have a GF that always found amazing clothes at the thrift stores. I started to go and found some very cool shirts, sweaters etc. They are selling stuff they get for free, and pay min wage. They also donate money back to the community. Some are more "for profit" than others, like Value Village/Savers, who accept donated good but also buy goods, and some have clothing made from questionable sources. Go ahead. There's no reason to feel unethical. There are plenty of people who live off visiting thrift stores and then selling them at their own "vintage clothing" stores.

  95. Absolutely go there and get all the second hand stuff your heart desires. Especially if it means you have less need for buying new. If you end up fighting over an item with someone who seems like they need it more, you might give it up, but other than that you are in the clear ethically.

  96. Think of thrifting as upcycling and engaging in more sustainable living. It's not just for people that can't afford to buy clothes off the rack in typical shops.

  97. Absolutely not. Thrift stores like Goodwill rely on customers as it's their model to offer employment to folks who might itherwyhave trouble finding and holding jobs. They need your dollars just as much as anyone else's.

  98. I use to live right next to a thrift store and walked to it nearly every Saturday afternoon. I have a few good things from there like video games, a portable dvd player, board games, Yeezys for like $5 (Not kidding) etc...

  99. When stuff in certain thrift stores doesn’t sell, it gets recycled or thrown out. Shopping at a thrift store is for everyone and is actually more ethical than shopping brand new because you’re reducing carbon foot print plus waste, AND if the store is non-profit, or partnered with a non-profit, you are also supporting their cause.

  100. In addition to a lot of the answers here, I want to mention that thrift shops that act as charities aren’t just providing cheap goods, if I recall correctly they take the profits and use that for social programs, so it’s not actually about selling things cheaply to those who need it, it’s about taking something that would have been trashed and transforming it into liquid cash that can then be used to help others, if you don’t buy it and it gets thrown out that can’t happen, so shop where you want!

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