The Parative Project

this flag won't change your life, but it will change someone else's

is second hand second best?

Drew Oxley

Today we visit the age old question, IS BUYING FROM THRIFT OR SECOND HAND STORES ETHICAL? If the stuff we find in second hand stores was originally made by unfair labor practices, when it becomes second hand how does it all the sudden become ethically made? 


Yes, we consider shopping pre loved (as I like to call it) to be an ethical way of shopping. The confusion lies in the question of, does that make the garments that you are buying ethical garments? Not necessarily. The clothes are still made by the ones who made them originally, however they were made... But buying clothes second hand helps your carbon footprint by eliminating transport, you are diverting waste from landfills, you are not supporting the production of new fast fashion, and you are giving clothes a second chance or a longer shelf life.

If any of you have tried shopping ethically you know how hard it can be to track the impact of your seemingly trivial purchase. But with thrift stores, the burden of impact of your purchase is greatly reduced. The original purchaser has already supported the whole chain of production that made the item, so you only have to worry about the second hand store in front of you that you are purchasing from. And it's a double whammy because many second hand stores support charities. 

Buying second hand helps.. it is a way and a form of recycling and it is a way to slow down fast fashion. 

After reading this article you might be thinking, is Carolyn actually Bill Nye the Science Guy? No, no, I am not. We just get the question a TON, "is buying second hand or thrift shopping ethical?" So, I put on my researcher pants (sweats) and took to Google to find this information. It really is quite interesting if you ask me. 

I am not asking you to never buy anything new again. That would be ludicrous (which is a rapper I love). What I am challenging you to, is to purchase things new that you will use and use for a long time. Things that you think you may only use for a short time or are not sure you will like, try buying second hand. Buy things new that won't go out of style in a year or two. Give gifts that will be used for a long time. I get it if you are a little hesitant, before I married Drew I didn't even like eating the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day. So maybe clothes aren't your go to for shopping second hand, think of other things you can buy used. My personal favorite thing to buy second hand is sporting goods. Think about it... and let us know what you come up with!