Monday, April 23, 2018

Earth Day Thrift Shopping with Women Who Workshop & Value Village

As a thrifter, Earth Day has become a pretty fun day on April 22nd every year. After all, thrifting is not just about getting a great deal, it's also eco-friendly! This year was even more special, as I had the pleasure of hosting a thrifting workshop with Women Who Workshop at Value Village. We talked about reducing our textile waste, why thrifting is eco-friendly, and I shared some of my top strategy tips for thrift shopping. I don't want all of you to miss out on what everyone learned, so keep scrolling below to see my full list of thrifting tips (and see what everyone found, once I set them loose in the store!). Big thanks to Value Village for graciously providing our workshop attendees with gift cards to get them started with their thrifting hunt.

If you're scratching your head thinking: "how is thrifting eco-friendly?" Then here's quick recap on what we discussed in the workshop:

When you shop from a retail store, you're putting demand on the textiles industry, because that shirt needs to be made from scratch, in order for you to buy it. In fact, it can take up to 700 gallons of water to make 1 new cotton t-shirt. And 1800 gallons to make a new pair of jeans. Unlike regular shopping, thrift shopping doesn't put that kind of burden on the textiles industry. Instead, you're simply buying something that has already been used by someone else (meaning no demand for new textiles). And rather than throwing your old clothes into the trash, increasing your textiles waste, by donating them to a thrift store, someone else could have the chance to love those items of clothing too!

My top thrifting tips:
  1. Be patient. Give yourself time to hunt. There's lots to sift through, so giving yourself ample time to go through the racks one-by-one will reduce that overwhelming feeling you might have when you walk through the door.
  2. Not sure? Try it on! If you pick out an item off the rack, something must have caught your eye, so why not just try it on! You might second guess yourself, thinking it may not fit, or your not sure of the cut, but you won't really know until you try it on. Also, that's why it's best to use one of the shop's baskets or carts, so you can toss things in there as you go.
  3. Don't get stuck on the 'size'. It's best not to rely on what it says on the tag, in terms of sizing. Sometimes tags are mislabelled, or an item might have been misplaced and put in the wrong size section. So it's a good idea to search beyond the size section you'd normally look it. If you're usually a small, check the x-smalls and mediums too (if you have time!). Particularly if you've found a vintage item, they tend to be smaller, so you'll likely need to size up.
  4. Use your fingers to feel for quality. Rather than checking every label to see if it's a quality item, use your fingers! Especially in the sweater section, you'll be able to feel the softness of cashmere and merino wool. For other items, the heaviness/thickness might also indicate quality. I like to touch each piece as I move the hanger on the rack, and then if I feel some that seems quality, I'll check the tag. Sometimes, it'll confirm your guess!
  5. Look for brand names. This relates to #4. I usually come across brand names based on touch, but sometimes just taking a peek at the labels as you flip through the hangers will also just do the trick. If you know the names of more obscure labels, even better. As those may not have been marked up, and you'll get an even better deal! Or...if an item seems like it might be an expensive brand name, but your not sure, just pull out your phone and do a quick Google search to see what they usually retail for.
  6. Be open-minded. Thrifting is best when you go in open-minded. It can be a bit difficult if you have something very specific in mind, because of the layout and contents of thrift stores. It's not like a shopping mall where you can go to a specific store for a specific type of clothing item. Instead, be ready to find all kinds of amazing items! If anything, keep your goals wider, like "I'm looking for spring dresses".
  7. Give your items a twice-over. Just like you would in a normal store, you'll want to give your items a once-over, or even better a twice-over, before you buy. Sometimes, items are donated with small rips, stains, broken zippers, etc. which you'll want to be aware of before purchasing. If it's something that would be easily fixed, then you may choose to buy it anyway. If it's a more expensive fix, like a broken zipper, then you may want to think about how much the item will cost you with that fix included in the price.
  8. Go often! Stores are restocked daily, so your best bet is to go often. This way, you might be lucky enough to snag some great finds before someone else finds it!

Helpful tips for thrifting at Value Village:
  1. Join their Super Savers Club. By signing up online, you'll get an alert of when their sales are coming up, and even get access to shopping their 50% off sales the day before the rest of the public!
  2. Save more by donating. Donating is great because you'll clean out your home, give your clothes new life, and Value Village will pay local non-profits when you donate. The best part though: you'll also get a stamp card when you donate, and based on how many bags you drop off, you can earn up to 30% off your next thrifting purchase!

Once we were all done chatting about textiles waste and thrifting strategy, I set them loose in Value Village to shop! I was so proud seeing my little thrifting protégés combing the racks. And they all did such a great job. Not everyone found something, but they now all have a few more tricks in their arsenal for thrift shopping another day. Others walked away with some awesome thrifted finds!

This dress was picked out for me by Sara, a member of the workshop, and it turned out being my favourite find of the day! Luckily, it was a pretty good fit (I'm planning to do a bit of adjustments to make the top a bit roomier), and it's just super cute for spring. It's made in Italy, and was only $24.99!

How cute is Julie's laser cut top? She found a ton of awesome items, including a bunch of tops and an adorable red romper. And I ended up taking home the royal blue dress on the right, along with a few other items.

Debra did really well too! She found a great Joe Fresh sweater (with tags still on!) and a couple other items.

I'm most proud of Chantale. Even the idea of thrifting stresses her out, as does shopping at stores like Winners, so I knew it would be a challenge for her to shop with us, let alone find something she liked. But she did! She found a great 100% merino wool sweater from Ellen Tracy, in perfect condition. How great is that?

Here's just a few of our workshop attendees, with their bags of goodies!

If you haven't tried thrifting before, I hope you're feeling a bit more inspired to give it a try. It's a great way to reduce your environmental footprint, while also refreshing your wardrobe on a budget.

Happy Earth Day!

~ Britta

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