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5 Reasons You’re Wasting Money On Firsthand Clothes

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

“I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in my pocket” – proverb by Macklemore, c. 2012

There was a time when you wouldn’t be seen dead in clothes that your grandma wore, but now you’re a student and strapped for cash and clothes, it’s becoming the more viable option.  The other alternatives being to crash headfirst into your overdraft with a guilt-ridden online shopping spree or walk around naked – I personally opt for the former, but whatever tickles your unclothed pickle.


To further reduce the stigma associated with charity shops (that they’re just for old fashioned style clothing, or some cheap fancy dress), I’d thought I’d list out a few pros to buying from charity shops for your day to day outfits, just in case you’re not totally convinced:

1. Savin’ those pennies

I think this point goes without saying.  Online, my skinny chinos cost me £20. In the same year, I managed to get a full suit for a wedding from the Salvation Army shop down the road for £15. You do the maths. If you’re on good terms with the people behind the counter (I have a certain je nai se quois when it comes to the elderly), you may be able to get a further discount if you swap in some of your old clothes – which is also a great way of decluttering your wardrobe, without heading straight to the bin.


Spot the owl. We’d purchase that too.

2. Literally save the planet

Every time you buy brand new clothing, a a polar bear burns down its igloo. That’s a #fact. Well, kind of… more chemical pesticides are used for cotton than for any other crop and 60 percent of the world’s cotton is used for clothing. Chemical pesticides can contaminate soil, water, and other vegetation. They often  kill off other wildlife in the area, not just the targeted pests of one specific crop. So you don’t want to be feeding this system of toxic contamination with the new clothing you are continuously buying. You also have to take into account the shipping between the clothing factories and your front door, which usually involves actual ships and a wide network of factories and lorries all churning out fumes just to get you the latest polka playsuit. 

3. You get a whole heap of good karma

Charity shopping is morally good for two reasons. Firstly, they’re not called charity shops for nothing – depending on which one you pop into, a portion of your hard-earned maintenance grant could go to cancer research, heart disease treatment, or might even end up protecting cats! 


Cuter then you will ever be… and you know it.

4. You’ll stand out

It is pretty much impossible for two people to go charity shopping and come out with an identical set of clothes. The same can’t be said for buying new. Begone are the days of accidentally wearing the same dress as your bestie to a party! Say goodbye to wearing the same top as half of the club! Never again shall we be trapped by the revolving door of trends of a corrupt fashion industry! Vive la revolution!

5. It’s an experience

Usually, I get a bit antsy with the whole ‘shopping is a fun way to spend the afternoon’ crowd because of all the consumerist ties that it has (fuelling companies who make clothes with poor conditions for their workers), but I’ll happily make charity shopping the exception here. Walking round a dimly-light room with racks of other people’s clothes in, looking to find a bargain on your next dinner party outfit; picking out the more outrageous finds to wear to a fancy dress party: it’s exhilarating!


Now you can blow your student loan, get more for your money and help people and the planet… at the same time.

So, there we have it, a short list that might just convince you to pop into your local Cat’s Protection instead of opening a new tab and spending far too much money that could have gone on another block of cheese. 

For top tips about where to find quality second-hand clothing check out this handy guide by lifestyle blogger Charlie Bedwell.

About the Author: Jacob Barrow is currently studying Computer Science at Edinburgh Napier University, he is trying to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

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