The ups and downs of thrifting


Ella Jennings

The endless joys of old clothes.

Josiah Stice, Staff Writer

It’s another Westmont Saturday, and you’ve woken up at 10 a.m. You let out a deep sigh, because the athletes started their day hours ago and the rest of the school is still sawing logs. You mosey on down to the DC and grab a lonely cup of coffee. You frown in your solitude. Then, that frown relaxes to a smile, because you remembered you have plans today! You’re going thrifting, obviously.

Thrifting is, in its utilitarian sense, the act of acquiring pre-loved goods at bargain prices. For Gen Z, though, the hobby has morphed into a social convention. You take the shuttle somewhere to find an iced coffee, and guided by your Gen Z sixth sense, you track down the nearest thrift store. Once inside, you ceremonially begin to peruse a random aisle. The ever-present crippling FOMO forces you to examine every t-shirt on the rack, regardless of size or color, sucking away at least an hour of your life. 

The next step in your strange ritual involves pulling out a shirt with a raunchy design, chuckling about it with your friends, then quickly slipping it back onto the rack, avoiding eye contact with the employee who totally saw what you did. A “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” indicates that 1) your friend found a musty, faded band tee and 2) you are required to make a good faith effort to “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” back, in acknowledgement of their superior thrifting abilities.

But why do you do it? No, here’s a better question: should you do it? 

This question is a tricky one to tackle. On one hand, thrifting has been found to be an inexpensive form of retail therapy, an excellent coping mechanism for the trauma of studying. In terms of school spirit, thrifting culture propagates the ‘granola girl’ archetype which has become a vital and historical characteristic of Westmont. This community has been an integral part of student life since the founding of the college. It is even rumored that Ruth Kerr was Montecito’s very first granola girl! Campus just wouldn’t be the same without those outdoorsy corn flakes. 

While it is important to preserve the granola culture at Westmont, many claim that thrifting could potentially disrupt the environmental balance as we head towards climate change. Reusing and recycling, which is one major purpose of thrift stores, are harmful practices that could lead directly to disturbing the trajectory of our planet towards the fiery pits of H-E-double hockey sticks. To restore balance, many have taken efforts to encourage thrifters to keep a steady supply of plastic Starbucks cups to dispose of before, during and after their weekly spree (buy single-use, friends). Another aspect that balances out the positive effects of thrifting is the fact that the aestheticization of working class attire leads to price increases, making it less accessible to the blue collar workers who actually need it for safety. Westmont bros can rock their thrifted denim, so that average workers can paint fences in their Carhartt overalls. 

Despite efforts to make it a positive force for the environment, thrifting is, ultimately, a good thing. Think about making a trip next Saturday when you wake up in the purgatory hours, while the rest of the world is either asleep or wishing they were. When you sit in the DC, sad that your hot coffee isn’t iced and your wardrobe sorely lacking in hyper specific ways, call together some friends and check that shuttle schedule. Go destroy the environment, economy or whatever you need to tell yourself to justify another pair of ripped jeans or sparkly dress you’ll never be able to wear.

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