I get it.
The first few times, or maybe even hundredth time, walking into a Goodwill can be a little offsetting. The first thing that hits you is, and always will be, the smell. (Think: Grandma just asked you to help go through the clothes that have been sitting in her basement for ten years.) And almost instantaneously after that, you see racks on racks of clothes, shoes, and things from every walk of life. It can be overwhelming and a little unsettling. I get it.
However, you need to get past that unsettling feeling that the clothes you are about to look at are not brand-new name brands. Everything that you buy at American Eagle or Patagonia can be purchased by the next person, or the person after that, and on and on and on. But, when you walk into Goodwill, everything is one of a kind. There are no five different styles of the same pair of jeans or shirt in six different colors.
The fear of “worn clothes” or “dirty clothes” is omnipresent in Goodwill rookies. This is unnecessary. Stores like that wash all of their clothing before they put it on a hanger, and if they don’t, it’s because they still have the tags on them. Worn clothes are the beauty of the store. Someone else has already worn in their favorite pair of jeans in all of the right places. Someone else has already washed that long sleeve to the perfect dryer sheet softness.
A huge plus to buying clothing from Goodwill is the fact that you’re not buying something new. Going into a store in the mall means that you are playing the role of the consumer. You are buying one more shirt and putting it out into the world- a shirt that will either a.) get thrown away or b.) be donated to Goodwill eventually anyway. When you buy a shirt from Goodwill, you are playing the role of the recycler. You are giving a shirt that already had a life, a new one.
On a small scale, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. But in the grand scheme of things, it is. To make a single cotton T-shirt, 2,700 liters of cotton and 650 gallons of water are required. Currently, the world is going through a major water crisis (you can read more about that here), and anything Americans can do to help should be done.
In the end, there are more than enough reasons to buy things at places like Goodwill. Not only are you helping the environment, but you are helping yourself. You never know what you’re going to find there, and your perfect fitting pair of jeans could be hanging just around the corner.