Angelika Dawson is a friend, fellow congregant at Emmanuel Mennonite Church here in Abbotsford and a thrift shopper. Her blog, Thrift Shopper for Peace is an inspiration, bare bones practical, filled with tips, amazing finds, and theological reflection on thrifting. I am thrilled that she took time to offer her words of wisdom on thrift shopping here at anabaptistly. Here are her 5 reasons why she thrifts.
The words “second-hand” have been a part of my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. I grew up with hand-me-downs and things my mom bought at the local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop. When I began earning my own money, it was just natural that I would shop there as well. I still have the very first item I bought with my own money over 25 years ago: an over-sized, man’s sweater.
Why thrift? For me, thrift is more than a shopping option, it is a lifestyle. Here’s 5 reasons why I choose a thrift lifestyle and why I think you should too:
1. It is active peacemaking.
Thrift shopping supports the environment, volunteerism in the community, and charity at home and abroad. It creates a level shopping ground for people of all income levels. Most thrift shops also support people who have no income or who find themselves in a tragic situation (like the aftermath of a fire). In all these ways a thrift lifestyle makes me conscious of how I relate to my world, my community and those around me, allows me to do so from a peace-making perspective.
2. It is environmental
When I donate and purchase at a thrift shop I’m keeping things out of a land-fill – making peace with the environment. Everything that you see in a thrift shop still has purpose, is still usable, still has worth – why would you throw that into the garbage? More importantly, why would you purchase something new when you don’t have to?
3. It is counter-consumerist-culture.
Related to #2, when we purchase something used, we are making a powerful statement. We are saying that we do not conform to society’s constant need to consume and to consume something new. Are there times when we need new things? Of course there are – but those times are much fewer and farther between than you think. Purchasing thrift also changes my relationship with my stuff. If I break the wineglass that I bought for 50cents, I don’t weep – but I might have, if I’d spent $25 on it. As I think on that, I re-evaluate again: why would I cry over the loss of an expensive item? It’s just a material thing after all. So shopping thrift makes me less attached to the material and allows me to focus more on the relational, the spiritual, the intangible things that really matter to me.
4. It supports both charity and volunteerism.
Volunteering is often thought of as something you do for others and in a sense that is true: when I volunteer at my local thrift shop, I help the organization supported by it to save money so that more money can go to the charity’s cause. But what I have discovered is that volunteering benefits me as much if not more. Aside from the warm-fuzzy feeling of doing something altruistic, I benefit from being part of a community of people that I might not interact with otherwise – both the other volunteers and the public. These people have enriched my life in many ways. A bonus for me personally, is that I’m also doing something completely different from my paid work, which I find refreshing and enriching.
5. It saves money.
Yup, at the end of the day, that’s a powerful motivator. Why would I spend $50 on a pair of jeans when I can get the same ones at a thrift shop for $5? The same can be said for most everything else: books, shoes, school supplies, dishes, furniture, sports equipment, gardening tools, CDs, decorations…. You get the picture. Purchasing my material possessions at a thrift shop allows me to use my income to do other things that I might not be able to afford otherwise – like purchasing fair trade items, which are typically more expensive, for example.
These are just a few reasons why I try to live a thrift lifestyle. I’m learning all the time – maybe you have other reasons for why you choose to live thrift. I’d love to learn from you too.