Recently, I have come upon a new addiction: thrift shopping. Although growing up I went to thrift stores on occasion, I never really understood how great they are until this past month. As a broke incoming college student who loves fashion but can't shell out hundreds of dollars to maintain a cute wardrobe, I decided to get creative. Here are just a few reasons why you should ditch traditional retail and give secondhand stores a shot.

1. You can find really great brands for fantastic markdowns.

Sure, a lot of the clothing at Goodwill that's marketed towards younger consumers comes from generic "fast fashion" stores like Old Navy, Rue 21, Forever 21, and H&M. And although these trendy fashion empires are fun to shop at, the actual clothing is rarely good quality which means you'll end up getting rid of those pieces within a year or so anyway. However, there are secret treasure brands at Goodwill, you just have to be willing to look for them. For example, the other day I spotted 3 pairs of J.Crew printed shorts that looked brand new and were $6. Shorts from this brand generally go for around $45 so I'd consider that a steal. Other good quality brands that I've spotted are Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein. The point is, really nice pieces are out of there, you've just got to be willing to search for them.

2. Shopping secondhand helps the environment.

This may seem pretty basic, but purchasing clothes second hand rather than brand new reduces your negative footprint on the environment. Aside from oil, the textile industry is the largest polluter IN THE WORLD. Our desire to have the latest looks is actually having a devastating impact on our planet and often times we don't even realize it. The average American citizen throws away 70 pounds of textiles every year. Not in 10 years, not in their lifetime, EVERY YEAR. When you thrift shop, you are giving new life to clothes that otherwise would probably end up in a landfill.

3. Your wardrobe will stand out.

In the city I live in of about 134,000 people, it isn't uncommon to see someone who owns the same clothes as you. Waco doesn't boast a ton of shopping options so most people my age buy their clothes at H&M, Target, Old Navy, etc. The problem with this is that everyone's outfits look eerily similar and what's the fun in that? With thrift shopping, you never know what looks might come through the door in a donate box, and I think that makes fashion more fun.

So, the next time you're tempted to walk into one of the big retail chain stores in your area that you've been to a million times, try a Goodwill or Salvation Army instead. They might just surprise you.