Saving the world through shopping

Why there's more to thrifting than just finding bargains.

Archie Green

Thrift shops and thrifting is something which has been around for a long time but has only recently become a worldwide phenomenon. However, it’s very easy to get lost and caught up in the excitement of finding expensive clothes for a fraction of the price and not realize the true value of thrifting institutions and why is it that they are so important?

Thrifting was created in the early 20th century as a way for those of a lower economic background to be able to enjoy high-quality clothing at an affordable price and was soon recognized as also not just being a way of preventing massive amounts of waste in the production and distribution of new clothes, but also averting huge amounts of old clothes from landfills and incineration.

Susan Green is the manager of the garrison thrift shop, a not-for-profit organization located just outside main town Seria, that has been upholding the values of thrifting, and for years now has been helping solve the issue of recycling that which is left behind by the endless stream of ex-pats who pass through Brunei.

Speaking on the issue of sustainability Mrs. Green stated that The garrison thrift shop ‘Prides itself on recycling items that are thrown away as staff (garrison employees) move away. Considering the massive ex-pat community all throughout the very global and diverse Brunei that makeup parts of Shell, BFB, teachers, etc who are constantly filtering in and out of Brunei there will always be an issue in discarded belongings upon departure. Without thrift shops, these items would be destined to lay in landfills for decades.

Mrs. Green went on to describe some of the other ways in which the garrison thrift shop benefits the local community, such as how ‘the thrift shop sponsors 3 Penan children to go to school each year, providing uniforms, stationery, toiletries, etc. As well as providing financial support to an old people’s home in Seria.’  

Of course, not all thrift shops are not-for-profit nor can afford to donate revenue to charities just like any other business. But sustainability is enough, right?
What most people may not realize is that Thrift shops are only as sustainable as their customers.

If you want to continue shopping ethically and sustainably from thrift shops, here are some things you should remember:

Only purchase what you need

Remember, thrift shops were created for those who cannot afford to buy nice clothes at retail purchasing in abundance means taking away from those in need. A good rule is always ‘shop to replace’.

Don’t resell

Thrifting cheap designers and reselling at high prices aids gentrification.

How long am I going to wear this for?

Buy clothes you see yourself keeping, not just for one occasion.

Give back

Giving back is the best thing you can do, not only are you providing new clothes for others to cherish, but you’re stopping your old clothes lifecycle from ending by eco-unfriendly means. ‘Help sustain sustainability’

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