Thrift Store Clothes Shopping is Green

Thrift StoreThrift store clothes shopping is “green” in more ways than one. First, wearing second-hand clothes saves the resources and energy that would be used to make, transport, and distribute new clothes. Second it saves some green in one’s wallet.

Friends and family will say that I am picky about clothes and many other things (I say I’m discerning). Like my maternal grandmother, Helen, I tend to select quality over quantity. I admire the style and creativity of fashionistas, but am definitely not one.

As the oldest girl in the family, there were no hand-me-down clothes for me when I was a kid. I am 5 inches taller than my mother (and have been since about 6th grade) so even if we had the same taste in clothes, sharing was not possible.

With winter approaching I was in need of an additional layer to wear indoors over a t-shirt. Instead of turning to my favorite mail order catalog companies or brick and mortar stores to buy something new, I decided to see what I could find by shopping at thrift stores.

Thrift Store Clothes Shopping

To me, it makes sense to follow the same shopping process regardless of whether one is buying new or second-hand clothes.

  • Buy clothes only when you need them. Don’t buy just because it’s cheap, on sale, or a great deal.
  • On any given shopping expedition, be prepared to sort through a lot of merchandise and not find anything.
  • Try on clothes before buying to make sure they fit. If it’s not possible to try on an item, think about skipping it.
  • Make sure the clothes are clean and don’t have any stains, tears, pulled seams, snags, broken zippers, missing buttons, etc.
  • Only buy clothes you like, even if you can return or exchange them. Why buy something you don’t really like that much in the first place?
  • Although I buy clothes online, I would be leery of purchasing second-hand clothes online because it is seems like it would be difficult to judge condition from a picture.
  • Some thrift stores are run by charitable or non-profit organizations. Shop green and support a favorite cause at the same time.

New Versus Thrift Store Cost Comparison

I was fortunate to find what I was looking for at the first thrift store I visited. An Eddie Bauer women’s long sleeve flannel shirt fit the bill perfectly. I can wear it over a t-shirt, in the house or outdoors, it is in great condition, and even better it is green literally and environmentally.

I decided to do a cost comparison of what it would have cost to buy a similar new shirt online at Eddie Bauer.

Author's Green Eddie Bauer Flannel Shirt from Thrift StoreEddie Bauer Women’s Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt

  • New: $49.95 (shirt) + $3.87 (7.75% sales tax) + $7.99 (shipping) = $61.81
  • Second-hand: $8.95 (shirt) + $0.69 (7.75% sales tax) + $0.0 (shipping) = $9.64
  • Savings: $52.17 or about 84%. I walked to the thrift store so saved on gas and greenhouse emissions.

Since I found what I was looking for on the first try, I didn’t get much thrift store clothes shopping practice this time around. Nevertheless, it was a green experience.

Let My People Go Surfing — Book Review

Let My People Go Surfing Book CoverWho wouldn’t be intrigued by a book called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard?

It was my brother who first turned me on to Patagonia. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and a fan of Patagonia gear and the company itself. He thought I might be interested in the environmental aspects of the company. I checked out Patagonia’s website and ran across Let My People Go Surfing.

Book Review

In Let My People Go Surfing, Chouinard shares his personal history and that of the two companies he founded, Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia.

  • His life-long love of the outdoors began as a kid coming of age in Southern California.
  • Chouinard Equipment, specializing in rock climbing equipment, was founded with one product, a piton.
  • A rugby shirt brought back from Scotland introduced clothing into the business and led to the founding of Patagonia.
  • Over the years during his travels, Chouinard saw first-hand the destruction of the natural environment and built environmental stewardship and action into Patagonia. He co-founded 1% For The Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1% of their net annual sales to environmental organizations.

This book is a story of simple beginnings, serendipity, hard work, success, creativity, failure, perseverance, innovation, luck, and how one’s passion can lead from a small business to a global corporation.

  • Readers will find Patagonia’s mission statement, corporate values, and business philosophies which combine standard business fare with some refreshing ideas.
  • Chouinard discusses his “MBA” theory of management (Management by Absence). Sounds humorous but if you really think about it, a manager’s job is to hire the right people, remove obstacles, and let them do their job.
  • Corporate headquarters is housed in an environmentally-friendly building in Ventura on the California coast. Employees can literally go surfing when the surf is up. Employees don’t shirk their responsibilities they just have the freedom to rearrange them.

The Bottom Line

In a way, Chouinard became a businessman to subsidize his global travel and outdoor endeavors. Along the way, he and others built Patagonia into a global organization that demonstrates a company can be people and planet friendly and profitable.

Let My People Go Surfing shows there is a viable alternative to chasing quarterly earnings, treating employees as an expendable commodity, and business as usual practices that damage our planet. This book should be on the required reading list for all MBA candidates and business executives.

I was captivated by this book and look forward to a future with more companies like Patagonia. It gave me hope that the business world may wake up and find a different way to operate and still make money.

The Responsible Company, by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, released in May 2012, is on my “to read” list.

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