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How Online Thrifting Sites Are Shifting Affordability

Graphic by Kaylee Haas

Fashion is cyclical. Trends are always changing and repeating themselves, and advances in technology have made it easier than ever to take part in a trend. With the many different thrifting avenues now available, what it takes for individuals to be fashionable is more accessible than ever. The whole fashion industry is at the world’s fingertips as online thrifting sites grow in number. People have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to thrifting both online and in-person now. This accessibility seems like it would be a great tool to make fashion inclusive. However, despite thrifting’s progression in accessibility, it still leaves some people behind.

There are many reasons that people choose to buy secondhand. One major reason is the environment. Thrifting can help reduce waste and even pollution. According to UC Berkeley, the growing of cotton is heavily dependent on pesticides. These chemicals can run into local water systems and, for many of the places where clothing is made, this contamination is life-threatening. Buying secondhand or recycling clothes aids in slowing fast fashion, which is beneficial because when companies create too many items too fast, production becomes higher than consumption, causing waste. Recycling clothes that were previously manufactured can decrease the threat of waste and pollution. Helping to preserve the environment while maintaining the well-being of citizens is ethically sound. However, with more people choosing to thrift, affordability begins to drift.

With thrifting becoming more popular and accessible across all tax brackets, those with more money to spend have the potential to “rack up” the most items. This can reduce the already limited amount of items that are available for people who rely on the low prices of secondhand items. Additionally, with online thrifting sites having no set limit on item pricing, sellers can price gouge. They could easily make a $2 shirt $45. When in-person secondhand retailers see this markup and they become aware of the losses they are taking. Because of this competition, consumers could potentially see a rise in prices at in-person thrift stores due to the nature of online thrifting.

On the other hand, online thrifting’s accessibility is revolutionary. It has the possibility to be a great tool for all to use. Clothes that matter, like clothes for a job interview, could be on anyone’s doorstep when they need them. Additionally, with thrifting having an online platform, people no longer have to worry about transportation issues. Success could be more attainable.

Thrifting online should not be guilt-inducing. However, consumers need to be aware of the effects it can have on other people. Thrifting can be vital, and it can be fun. Being able to have boundaries when thrifting, whether online or in-person, matters. Being conscious of the environmental positives that come with thrifting, which is a major focus of millennials and Gen Zers, is something to be proud of.

In order to make fashion inclusive for all, there is an ethical view that has to be considered. Yes, thrifting is better for the environment. It slows the speed of fast fashion. It also helps reduce our planet’s waste. However, taking all desirable items from these shops and reselling them for a high markup can hurt those who rely on their usually stable prices. Online thrifting is a great tool, but it is everyone’s responsibility to understand how to use it.

By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer


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