Sustainable travel used to be a term I knew nothing about. I was only concerned with how I was getting to the next destination and how I’d be able to afford to do so. With so many changes happening all around the globe, I think it’s time that more people start a conversation surrounding ways we can all travel a little more sustainably. I mean, how are we going to be able to explore more of the beautiful world we live in if we don’t start making changes now? So I’m starting off my list of sustainable travel tips with a personal fave, thrifting!
After returning home from recent travels, I started thinking more about how I can mix travel and sustainability. Out of sheer necessity (being broke after travelling), I decided to check out a few of my local thrift stores for new summer clothes and got to thinking. I had always heard a lot about ‘fast fashion’ and how it has a negative impact on the environment. Ever since I’ve been thrifting a lot more and looking into why more people should forego searching for brand new clothes and reach for pre-loved items instead!
In North America alone, 9.5 million tonnes of clothing are brought to landfills each year. The worst part is that 95% of it can be reused or recycled and isn’t. Besides the fact that thrifting is a great way of keeping clothes out of landfills, there are many other upsides to thrift shopping!
1. Unique finds:
If you want to stand out a little, finding items at a thrift store is the way to do it. You can almost guarantee that no one else is going to have that same item. It’s also nice to know that you won’t run into anyone else with the same outfit.
I find that thrifting always gets me in the mood to go through my old clothes and get rid of whatever I no longer need. I’ve started to only look for items I would really need and therefore I don’t end up taking as much with me when I travel. Less items = less weight on your back when you’re going from one spot to the next!
3. DIY Opportunities:
If you’re in the market for a new hobby, DIY’ing old/worn clothes into something you’d actually want to wear might be right up your alley. It’s so easy to DIY these days, especially with fabric glue. I personally hate sewing so all I use typically are scissors and fabric glue!
4. Budget Friendly:
Travel can be expensive. A great way to save on the things you need for a trip is by thrifting your gear! Thrift shopping is especially great for items you wouldn’t typically wear but need for a colder climate or more conservative country. Just think of it as low commitment clothing. You aren’t spending much so who cares and it’s easy for clothes to go missing or get ruined while you’re on the road.
WHAT to thrift
- Tees and shorts
- Jeans – I find great used jeans at Plato’s Closet all the time!
- Athletic gear
- Luggage/Backpack – Only thrift these if in good condition and check fb groups for used backpacks!
WHEN to thrift
When you book your next trip, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to check out different thrift stores. Thrifting good items takes time and patience and sometimes you may find nothing. If you leave yourself with enough time to go to a few places, you’ll be sure to at least get most items you’re looking for.
Some countries may not have the typical thrift stores you’re used to seeing – especially if it’s not a first world country. When this is the case, you can get a little creative with how you get your hands on new thrifted finds. Ask your hostel if they have a section where people leave behind unwanted goods and see if you can swap some of your stuff for things other people have left.
If you are in a country that has an abundance of thrift stores, take a wander through and you may be surprised. When I lived in Australia, I found a few really nice bikini tops for $5 AUD in great condition. It saved me from having to spend an unreasonable amount of money on new bikinis. Depending on the country, you may notice that you’ll find lots of good quality clothing depending on their seasons. For example, Australia was great for summer clothes and bikinis since it’s warm most of the year, while Canada is great for sweaters/hoodies and warmer clothing since our winters are quite long!
Below you can see two bikini tops I thrifted. The first one was $5 from a thrift store in Melbourne and was originally from one of my favourite stores called Glassons. The second one was $3.50 from Value Village in Toronto.
You can also thrift souvenirs to bring back to your friends and family at home! You never know what sort of stuff you’ll find in vintage/thrift stores so it’s worth at least checking out.
Thrifting once you get back home from travelling is a great way to change up your wardrobe for cheap. You can replace items you may have lost or ones that got a lot of use! Over time you may find yourself buying less and less online or from the mall which is great.
HOW to thrift
I’m not going to lie, thrifting good quality stuff takes a lot of patience. Here are a few easy ways you can find thrifted goods, outside of a thrift store!
- Garage Sales – Okay hear me out … You probably haven’t been to a garage sale in years but you never know what you could find! Head out early on a weekend morning and wander through a few neighbourhoods and see if you come across anything good. You may luck out!
- Grandparent’s Closet – With a lot of 90’s inspired clothing coming back in style, it’s the perfect time to check out what clothes your grandparents have lying around. I personally have found awesome sweaters, rain jackets, purses and more from stuff my Grandparent’s were holding onto for no reason.
- Facebook groups/Carousell – When I lived in Melbourne there were heaps of groups on Facebook where girls would buy, trade or sell their clothing. This was a great way for me to get new stuff for cheap, as well as sell old clothes before travelling again. I also used a site called Carousell to get rid of some old stuff and it was really easy and great to use! Something to keep in mind is that I think it’s probably easier to sell items on these platforms when you live in or near a city, as it’s been more difficult for me to sell items while living at home in a suburb.
WHERE I thrift
In the past month or two I’ve been going to more second hand/thrift stores after outgrowing old summer attire. I live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) so I usually go to my nearest Value Village or Salvation Army. With that being said, I also go to stores like Plato’s Closet where you can sell used items that are lightly used. Those stores are great because I can find great clothes that are in style and require no DIY’ing, as well as make some money off of old clothes.
When I decide to make the trek downtown, there are many ‘vintage’ shops at my disposal – mostly along Queen St West. These stores are usually a little more pricey than your average thrift store but a $10 unique sweater is a still a win in my books!
My best thrifted finds
Every time I step into Value Village I somehow stumble upon Coca Cola items that I cant pass up on. Large tee’s I’ll just crop with some fabric glue and call it a day. Backpacks and hats are always great for travel too.
My faves are probably the awesome sweaters I come across pretty often at home! People always ask me where I get them and it’s nice knowing that a thousand other girls won’t be walking around in the same thing.
If you have any helpful sustainable travel tips up your sleeve (pun intended), I’d love to hear them! Comment below or connect with me on Instagram.