In an effort to reduce consumption and raise awareness about ethical fashion, National Op Shop Week aims to highlight the many benefits of buying second-hand. Beginning Sunday 27th August through Sunday 2nd September, during the week op shops around Australia will offer in-store deals and advice.

The bargain prices of op shops appeal to most, but the importance of recycling clothing extends far beyond. The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, The Smith Family and other charitable organisations, endorse the environmental benefits of op shopping. Salvos received 30,000 tonnes of donated clothing, which would have otherwise ended up in landfill, in 2016. Besides diverting clothes from waste centres, charities such as Salvos donate items to communities in need. Funds raised through op shops go towards important social care projects, meaning thrifting improves the world in more ways than one.

For many, buying second-hand is a new experience. Read below for tips to successful thrifting and how to maximise your environmental and social impact.

Not just for clothing

Even those familiar with op shops often overlook certain departments. Don’t discount the full range of items for sale and have an open mind instead of routinely purchasing new. Anyone furnishing a home knows how expensive the experience can be! Op shops are overflowing with pre-owned but perfectly functional pots, cutlery, and dishes. And don’t forget, many of us read a book once before retiring it to a shelf forever, so why not buy a used copy instead of a new edition? Get in the habit of browsing local thrift stores for all your shopping needs.

Feel good shopping

Op shopping cuts out concerns you may have while trying to be an ethical consumer. Since everything purchased has been donated, you help break the cycle of fast fashion by giving old clothing another chance. Instead of your money financing unsafe production methods or working conditions, the cash goes to charity that aids crucial social work in the community. Nothing tops the feeling of wearing an upcycled, unique outfit from the local Salvos that’s contributed to a better world.

Quality and quantity

Discovering the special treasures hidden in every op shop is the greatest reward after searching through racks of clothing and shelves of used objects. Thrifting guarantees an exceptional wardrobe and books not found in your local library. Finding exclusive op shop items brings more meaning to the object, because we can celebrate it for its uniqueness and rarity, unlike clothing bought in a mall. Clothing manufactured today is often made of synthetic materials designed to be disposable. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to find durable and well-made clothing at op shops as people donate their used, but well-preserved, items. Op shops allow people to purchase items of higher quality, but at a significantly lower price point. This means clothing doesn’t get worn out as quickly, so can get more wears and limit the need to purchase more. Clothing is a wonderful means of self-expression and being environmentally and socially conscious does not mean fun and fashion cannot play a role.

Mindful consumption

Op shops, with an abundance of items for sale, can overwhelm those simply browsing. Instead of being enticed by the low prices, think carefully about what your wardrobe or home truly needs. Try to be realistic about how often you’ll wear something or if there’s even storage space. Before purchasing, shop your own wardrobe and determine what’s missing. Then, you can better spend your money on items that are exactly what you want and need. Many of us are in the habit of shopping as a stress relief, an activity with friends, or simply because we are tired of what we currently own. Being a mindful consumer means acting deliberately and thinking carefully about what we are purchasing and where the profits go. Shopping at op shops is a means to put your ethics into action.

Bring it full circle

Unworn clothes that are uncomfortable, poorly fitting, don’t boost your confidence or are held onto for sentimental reasons, do not deserve space in your wardrobe. Items you barely consider should be donated to your local op shop where someone else will love them. Encourage others to get involved by hosting a clothing swap evening with friends or setting up a workplace collection bin where people can leave unwanted items. Make a habit of donating or gifting a quality, clean piece of clothing for any new item purchased to continue op shops’ recycling and welfare efforts. Support the efforts of National Op Shop Week by visiting your local Salvos, Vinnie’s, or Smith Family store. Receive style advice and browse designer pieces at “Salvos Curated”, a special event happening this week only to celebrate the important work op shops everywhere are doing.

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