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OPINION: Is Thrifting Harming the Poor?

The growing trend of thrift stores by people who used to shop fast fashion has led to a change in the idea that secondhand clothes meant a poorer status. Instead, thrift finds are sought after for their ‘vintage vibe’ that creates not only unique outfits but also reduces energy consumption, landfill waste, and pollution. Those who thrift are contributing to the circular economy—leaving zero waste behind.


However, this trend has also hurt those who rely on secondhand clothes. Rising demands have forced the prices of items in thrift stores to surge, making it difficult for low-income households to afford these necessities, defeating their original purpose. Worse, many buy from thrift stores just to resell at higher, more profitable prices. On the online platform, Depop, you could observe influencers and entrepreneurs practicing arbitrage, selling XS crop tops for $30 when in fact, they are baby clothes that a struggling parent may need.


At the bottom line, being more conscious of low-income communities when thrifting and doing so in moderation can make thrifting itself not just a trend but a lifestyle one adheres to.


Definitions:

  • Arbitrage: recognizing something that is undervalued in one market and then selling it in another market


​​References

https://lhsepic.com/9666/in-depth/the-unsustainable-truth-of-thrifting/

https://toughnickel.com/frugal-living/Shopping-at-Thrift-Stores-Helps-the-Economy

https://havenhousethriftstores.com/why-thrift-store-shopping-is-good-for-the-environment-and-economy/

https://blog.ecosia.org/circular-economy-black-friday-fast-fashion-recycle/