Thrift Shopping Ethics 101

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The environment isn’t the only thing to think about, but it’s a huge factor

It’s 2018, so if you’re still spouting a lame excuse for not liking to shop pre-loved clothing, it’s safe to say that no one’s buying it. Reduce, reuse, and recycle isn’t just for the single-use plastics of your life. The time to look for sustainability in everything was long before now, and it’s far from over.

Personally, my love for thrifting started young. Limited Too was not a far-off dream, financially speaking, for my family, but it was definitely not something that was in the budget outside of the handful of super-special items to add to my wardrobe right before school started in the fall. I remember looking through my best friend’s closet in awe of all her LTD2 before getting ready for a birthday party, her pulling out a bedazzled Kelly green T-shirt her mom had just picked for her. She’d gotten it for 99 cents at Salvation Army, she told me. I was shocked! Ninety-nine cents for my favorite brand, and available to purchase in the same shopping plaza as our grocery store. The nearest mall was a 40-minute drive away (which inevitably made my love of fashion all the more intangible). Suddenly, it was all within reach.

My mom was not a fan of me shopping secondhand (at first, perhaps because of pride, but she has long gotten over it and eagerly shops vintage with me whenever I visit home), but indulged my search for these brands I so dearly loved. The habit carried on later into middle school when, in order to fit in, the words “Hollister” or “Abercrombie & Fitch” needed to be emblazoned across your chest, not quite matching the gauchos or bright plaid Bermuda shorts we all just had to have (2007 was weird).

In my early adult life, secondhand shopping became a necessity. I got my first retail job at Free People, meaning I was paid minimum wage to sell fast fashion clothing that singularly cost more than I’d make in a week. In order to dress the part, and avoid the unpleasant conversation with managers about not dressing “on-brand” enough, I’d dig through the racks at Buffalo Exchange for last season’s wares.   

Even now that I have a job that pays for me to live more comfortably, I still nearly always opt for purchasing secondhand, in the interest of finding the most environmentally friendly and sustainable mode of existing as a relatively trendy person in NYC.  As ThredUp shows through a series of adorable infographics, “thrift quickly becomes a lifestyle.” Not only does shopping resale save serious funds in the long run, especially when adding high-end and couture pieces that would otherwise be financially out of reach, but, according to ThredUp’s reports, if each article of clothing was given a second home after being discarded the first time, waste and emissions would be reduced by 73 percent. That’s a huge difference!

Back in 2013, 12.8 million tons of textile waste was sent to American landfills. Unfortunately, thrifting isn’t the end all, be all answer to this enormous problem. Kyle Stewart, director of donated goods retail at Goodwill, told HuffPost in 2016, “The goal is to liquidate. We want to try and keep as much out of the landfill as possible.” The efforts to keep donations from still creating ultimate waste are shown in a trickle-down sale process: Items first hit the traditional Goodwill store, where they have four weeks to sell. After that, they hit the outlet level (those ultra-cheap, by-the-pound or 99-cent Goodwill stores that you keep hearing about, but have never taken the chance to check out). Then, à la Storage Wars, bins of unbought wares from the outlets are auctioned off. After that, if they really can’t sell, they’re sent off to textile recycling companies like S.M.A.R.T., which on average are able to find another use for 95 percent of what they receive, sending 5 percent of unsellable and unsalvageable clothing to landfills.

Of course, the ethics of secondhand shopping are more nuanced than simply slapping on a label of sustainability. This is something that has taken me a while to notice and learn, on behalf of privilege and serious lack of resources.

Walking into big-box thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill is always a similar experience. Items are organized by type, often by color, almost never by size. As someone who has been on the thin side for my entire life, I never have had to worry about sifting through the racks to find garments in larger sizes. I never noticed that, while some of these donation-based thrift stores have plus size racks, not all do. As aesthetically pleasing as color-based organization may be, especially when you just need a black Harley Davidson T-shirt or a red fringed leather jacket, it’s pretty discriminatory, especially as you begin to move away from donation-based thrift stores and into the land of curated consignment. Grabbing a vintage Pendleton skirt that was a few sizes too big (only to have it brought to a tailor and brought down to a size 4) feels a lot more justifiable when you don’t have to be faced with the fact that it was probably one of the only larger sizes on the rack.

There’s a great deal of gray area when it comes to shopping for a wardrobe at thrift stores for the sake of sustainability, particularly low-priced options that are donation-based. While it can be easy to simply focus on the numbers, it feels important to remind shoppers to remain cognizant of where they’re sourcing their hip pre-loved wardrobe from. Are you driving out of your way to a low-income neighborhood to check out if their stock is better than the one in your town? Probably a bad idea. Are you cherry-picking designer out of your local store only to flip it for more money on eBay? That’s not a cute look. Of course, if you happen to be sorting through the prom dress rack at Savers and come across a lone Alexander Wang maxi for $25, well, it’s your lucky day. No shame in jumping on a stellar find, just don’t be an asshole.

Those by-the-pound or 99-cent outlet stores that I mentioned prior are often, actually, better options for both your wardrobe and for your conscience, especially if you’re a hot mess and have a rambling inner dialogue like me and don’t want to worry! Given that they’re the second stop on the way to the landfill after first being passed over at average thrift stores, rest assured you’re not cherry-picking. It doesn’t mean you won’t find incredible designer or traditionally out-of-budget deals—at my first trip to the Goodwill Outlet in Queens, I snagged a pair of knee-high Sam Edelman boots in perfect condition for two dollars. Bless.

Secondhand stores to be leery of are those that appear well-curated and high-priced but don’t offer consignment programs. Question their sources! Are they digging through big thrift stores only to resell a floral frock for 40 times the price? Or, are they bidding on unbought wares in bulk and then performing their curatorial magic? Being a conscious consumer is a never-ending task, but your wallet (and the environment, and, indirectly, other thrifty consumers) will thank you.

While it’s the topic of an entirely separate essay, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Salvation Army has a history of horrible discrimination against the queer community, and so doesn’t deserve your hard-earned funds. Loving the LGBTQIA+ community and the environment shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive!


Millions of tons of waste each year come from discarded apparel. Give your no-longer-worn wares a second life by donating or consigning. Better yet, buy pre-loved in the first place. It’s cyclical!

Size-wise, stick close to home. Believe me, your dream plaid school-girl skirt that you’ve just had to have after hearing “…Baby One More Time” all your life will appear in your size at the right moment. Don’t force an item to be right. What’s meant to be is meant to be. I’m not saying don’t snag a men’s flannel for that perfect, cozy and oversized fit, but don’t buy a 2XLT polo only to cut it up an make it a co-ord set.

Scouring for designers is bad, especially if you’re physically going out of your way to do so, or planning to flip for profit. Try personal resale apps and sites like Poshmark or The RealReal if you’re really just in it for the cheap Gucci.

Remain a conscious consumer. Question the sources of your favorite curated vintage stores, especially if they’re not consignment-driven.

Salvation Army doesn’t deserve your money. Love the queer community.  

Happy thrifting!

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.