Why is Thrifting Good for the Environment

Why is Thrifting Good for the Environment? (Save Money and Save the Planet)

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Krystine

Thrift shopping helps the planet by reducing waste and extending the lifecycle of clothing and other items.

It’s a sustainable alternative to buying new goods that require virgin resources for manufacturing.

Thrifting is an easy, affordable way to lower your environmental footprint.

Why is Thrifting Good for the Environment?

A clothing rack full of thrifted clothes
Thrifting is not only a more sustainable option, but it’s also a creative way to breathe new life into pre-loved clothing.
Image Credit: The New Yorker

Is it really good for the environment?

Yes, thrifting is beneficial for the environment because it reduces waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions by reusing quality clothing and other goods rather than producing new items.

Thrifting extends product lifecycles, conserves resources and energy, and offsets carbon-intensive manufacturing processes.

Key Points

  • Thrifting reduces landfill waste by giving used goods new life and intercepting textile waste.
  • Buying thrifted clothing consumes 20% of the carbon emissions compared to purchasing new garments.
  • Thrifting avoids the pesticides, dyes, and water usage in textile manufacturing that generate substantial pollution.
  • Thrifting provides an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion overproduction which often goes to waste.

Does Thrifting Help the Environment?

Yes, thrifting provides significant environmental benefits.

It conserves resources and energy needed to produce new items.

Thrifting also reduces landfill waste, pollution from manufacturing, and greenhouse gas emissions.

New clothes require massive water and energy inputs.

Thrifting skips this production phase, saving thousands of gallons of water per garment.

It also avoids the pesticides used in cotton farming that harm ecosystems.

Overall, reusing existing goods is much lighter on the planet.

Thrifting cuts your carbon footprint while making sustainable choices simple and economical.

How Does Thrifting Reduce Waste?

Thrifting reduces waste
Purchasing pre-owned items helps prevent them from ending up in landfills or being incinerated, thereby reducing overall waste generation. Image Credit: America’s Thrift Store

The average American throws away about 80 pounds of used clothing annually.

That adds up to 26 billion pounds of textile waste yearly.

Thrifting intercepts discarded garments, furniture, electronics, and more, giving them renewed life.

This saves valuable products from landfills.

Thrifting also offsets the overproduction of cheap fast fashion that often goes to waste.

By purchasing secondhand goods, consumers gain quality and uniqueness without fueling wasteful mass production.

In effect, thrifting reduces demand for rapidly produced lower-quality items that don’t last.

Does Thrifting Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Yes, studies show thrifted clothing has about 20% of the carbon emissions compared to new clothing throughout its lifecycle.

New textile production generates about 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually.

Thrifting a used cotton shirt saves about 5-6 kg of carbon dioxide.

This adds up significantly given Americans discard over 12 million tons of textile waste yearly.

Overall, thrifting reduces potent climate change gases generated by clothing production.

How Does Thrifting Help Reduce Pollution?

Textile manufacturing is chemistry-heavy, using immense amounts of water, pesticides, and dyes.

This creates major pollution issues. Producing polyester, for example, generates more emissions and uses more energy than cotton.

By reusing garments, thrifting avoids the pollution generated during textile production.

It also reduces the energy and chemical inputs used in farming, manufacturing, and transportation of new goods.

Ultimately thrifting cuts down on many sources of apparel industry pollution.

Can Thrifting Support Sustainable Fashion?

Yes, thrifting helps drive sustainable fashion in two key ways.

First, it reveals fast fashion’s steep environmental price tag, encouraging more eco-conscious purchases.

Second, buying secondhand reduces consumer demand for cheap trendy clothes churned out by fast fashion.

With fast fashion expected to double clothing production by 2030, thrifting offers an alternative where style and affordability align with sustainability.

This motivates clothing companies to adopt greener practices to compete with thrifting’s eco-appeal.

Does Thrifting Foster Social Benefits Too?


Thrift stores help charities, churches, schools, and housing organizations.

They provide jobs, volunteer opportunities, affordable goods, and community spaces.

Thrifting also supports small businesses. Unique local shops offer an alternative to mass retail.

Beyond environmental benefits, thrifting advances social, economic, and cultural sustainability.

It helps strengthen communities beyond just reducing waste.

Can Thrifting Become More Mainstream?

Thrifting is gaining appeal, particularly among millennials and Gen Z concerned about climate change.

Trendsetters like Macklemore and Rihanna proudly wear and promote secondhand style.

Even luxury consignment is surging.

More work remains to challenge the stigmas some still harbor about used goods.

But the message is clear – thrift shopping offers affordable abundance while caring for the planet.

This motivates more people to explore and embrace thrifting’s many benefits.

Why is Thrifting Good for the Environment? What the Benefits?

Thrifting provides many significant environmental benefits.

It reduces landfill waste by giving used goods new life instead of having them thrown away.

Thrifting avoids the pollution from pesticides and chemical dyes used in clothing and textile manufacturing.

It also conserves the immense amount of water needed to produce new cotton garments.

Thrifting reduces potent greenhouse gas emissions associated with manufacturing new items.

Reusing existing goods cuts down on the energy demands of new production as well.

Thrifting counteracts the waste problem of fast fashion overproduction and extends product lifecycles overall.

It provides an eco-friendly way for people to refresh their wardrobes affordably.

In summary, thrifting reduces resource use, waste, pollution, and emissions through sustainable reuse.

Why is thrifting sustainable?

Thrifting is highly sustainable because it minimizes the environmental impacts associated with producing brand-new items.

The reuse at the heart of thrifting requires far less water, energy, chemicals, and pesticides than manufacturing new goods.

This makes it much lighter on the planet.

Thrifting avoids unnecessary waste by extending useful product lifespans beyond initial owners.

The affordable uniqueness of thrifted goods also reduces demand for cheap disposable fast fashion items.

Ultimately, thrifting aligns affordability and style with eco-consciousness.

The sustainable benefits of reusing quality goods motivate more consumers to choose thrifting over buying new.

Does recycling clothes reduce carbon footprint?

Yes, recycling clothes substantially reduces the carbon footprint compared to manufacturing brand-new garments.

Studies show that recycled polyester emits 32% less greenhouse gases than virgin polyester.

Recycled cotton has a carbon footprint 75% lower than conventional cotton.

In total, textile recycling decreases emissions by about 1 ton of CO2 equivalent for every ton of textile waste recycled.

So opting for recycled fibers and clothes over new items results in major carbon savings.

This is because recycling avoids energy-intensive production processes including farming, smelting metals, refining oil for synthetics, dyeing, and more.

Overall, recycled clothes are a lower-carbon option.

That is why thrifting is good for the environment.

Key Takeaway:

  • Thrifting cuts waste, emissions, and pollution by reusing quality goods.
  • It saves substantial amounts of water, energy, and raw materials while supporting sustainable economies.
  • By choosing pre-loved items, anyone can lighten their environmental footprint and opt out of harmful fast fashion cycles.
  • Thrift on for people and the planet!


What are the benefits of thrifting?

The benefits of thrifting include reducing waste, pollution, and carbon emissions by reusing goods. It also saves substantial amounts of water, energy, and raw materials needed to produce new items. Thrifting avoids toxic pesticides used in agriculture and manufacturing. It extends product lifecycles rather than fueling fast fashion overproduction. Thrifting provides affordable, unique goods while benefiting charities.

Why is thrifting sustainable?

Thrifting is a very sustainable option because it minimizes resource use and waste. Reusing existing materials is much lighter on the planet than virgin production. Thrifting cuts down on pollution from textile manufacturing and reduces potent greenhouse gases. It also counteracts fast fashion overproduction and waste. Ultimately thrifting aligns style and affordability with environmental stewardship.

What happens when clothes are recycled?

When clothes are recycled, they are sorted, processed, and reduced to raw textile fibers. These fibers are then re-spun into yarns and woven or knitted into fabrics, which can be used to make new garments or other products. Recycling clothes reduces landfill waste and the environmental impact of producing new textiles. It conserves water, energy, and other resources.

The team at GreenChiCafe is passionate about our natural world and preserving our planet for future generations.

Please check out our website for more content on living sustainably.

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