Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Nature of Thrifting (Part One of Four)

I read a complaint by a social activist that people who think they're doing something for justice by buying clothes secondhand aren't doing the right things, or enough of them. Her point, as I understand it, is that buying a used t-shirt doesn't educate us about capital-I Issues, nor does it channel money into capital-B Businesses owned by capital-P People that the social activist wants us to patronize. Like small independent fashion designers.


Well, that's like saying that just putting money into a church collection plate isn't the same as getting out there and "working for the Lord." Agreed that it's not the same, but it's still important. There are front-liners, there are second-stringers, there are supporters. Some people will always stay in the back rooms of ministries, or just be names on donor lists and prayer chains, but that Does Not Make Them Less Valuable.

When you  choose to buy something secondhand, or swap or re-use or buy-not, it is a small act, but it is felt.

It is felt because of what you didn't do. Because you chose to buy-or-not-buy your X from already-existing sources, you most likely chose not to buy a similar X new. That's a vote for the environment, against pollution and packaging and garbage dumps, all that industrial-nasty stuff. Some people would also say that it's a vote against "slave labour" or unjust practices which are commonly perpetrated mainly against women.

It is also felt because of what you did do, or what your thrifting money does by going into the funds of a charitable organization or ministry. Mennonite Central Committee, for example, posted this on its website in 2019:

So it's all about choice, isn't it? I can support a small business by buying its products, if I can afford them and if they have something I need myself, or can use for my own business, or want to give to someone. Or I can support a ministry or charity that has worthwhile goals. Or I can make a hundred other choices.

But don't ever think that any of those choices are too small to be noticed.
Top and skirt from Salvation Army Thrift Store

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