Gen Z has made thrifting more popular among younger generations than ever before. What used to be considered an option for low income consumers only, is slowly being taken over by youth looking for more ethical alternatives to fast fashion. While thrifting does have many positive benefits, it's important to recognize the negative consequences of what may seem like a given sustainable effort .
So, why has thrifting become so popular in the first place? In recent years, the fashion industry has faced much criticism for unfair and unethical practices in creating merchandise and treating workers. Looking to slow the support of brands like Forever 21 and H&M, many people have begun searching for other fashion options that are still affordable and fashion forward. Additionally, younger generations tend to be more conscious about the threat of climate change. Purchasing from thrift stores is more sustainable as buyers are generally recycling clothing and reducing unnecessary waste in the process. For broke college kids, like me, thrift stores provide a broad range of styles and sizes that cost a small percentage of regular store prices. All in all, thrifting seems pretty ideal... but critics have begun to say otherwise.
For one, if you're looking to thrift shop to support your community, you should be aware that not all thrift shops are "non-profit". Non-profit thrift stores that claim to donate their profits to charity, may not be as transparent about where the funds ACTUALLY go to. For example, in 2015, Value Village thrift stores were sued for "misleading people about how much of their donations actually go to charities and concealing its role as a for-profit company," The Seattle Times reported. Some also argue that people who can afford shopping at retail stores are technically "stealing" from underprivileged individuals and families who have no other option but to thrift. There's also the moral question of whether or not reselling thrifted finds online at higher prices is exploitative or not.
Does thrifting do more harm than good? At the end of the day, that's up for you to decide.