Staying sustainable and stylish by thrifting

Most college students lack the extra money to splurge on the latest fashion trends and styles because they have other necessities to pay for, so a lot of students make the most by purchasing affordable clothing. Many of them aim for trendy yet low cost clothing, and one way to keep up with the latest styles without breaking the bank is by going thrift shopping. 

According to GoodWill, thrifting is shopping for gently-used clothing, which is still good enough to be reused again by a new owner. Recycled clothing and donated goods are great for your wallet, but they are even better for the environment. 

Thrift Jacks is a club on campus that is dedicated to educating people on the benefits of thrifting and sustainability. Sophomore and Thrift Jacks president Elaina Van Duyne said the organization aims for sustainability through shopping second hand in the Flagstaff community. 

“Our mission is to make secondhand clothing accessible and affordable for students, [and] most of the time that means completely free because we want people on campus to be able to have access,” Van Duyne said.

She explained that not everyone has the same resources and opportunities to get secondhand clothing, and one of the main ideals Thrift Jacks promotes is to make it simple and convenient for individuals on campus to get recycled clothing and donated miscellaneous items. 

However, due to the pandemic, most of the club’s residence hall collaborations and events have been shut down due to the risks associated with potential bacteria exchange from individuals viewing different clothing pieces. 

Though in-person events have been pushed back, Thrift Jacks is holding virtual meetings on Zoom and focusing on the educational aspect of thrifting that involves lessening Carbon Footprints and negative impacts on the environment in terms of the clothing members purchase. 

“On March 15 [we had a virtual] showing of a documentary called The True Cost that highlights important issues in the fashion industry that are unknown to many or are simply not acknowledged,” Van Duyne said. “Some of the facts behind the fashion industry involving fast fashion are horrendous.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fast fashion describes a marketing concept that includes making trending clothes quickly and at low cost for consumers. This system can help college students and other consumers around the globe by producing cheap and stylish clothing, but it drastically affects the environment by filling up landfills with hardly worn garments.

Raul Lazcano is a former NAU student who said he often thrifts for clothes.

“I get most of my staple pieces from thrift stores, especially the local Savers here in Flagstaff, but I’ve noticed more fast fashion brands coming into these establishments like Shein and Fashion Nova,” Lazcano said.

He said most of the clothing items he saw were pristine and in perfect condition. The fast fashion industry may produce cheap and affordable clothing, but observations like these show it creates a lot of waste. These types of issues are discussed in Thrift Jacks meetings and demonstrate why club members push for more sustainable clothing. 

Sophomore Derek Fuertes is participating in the 90/30 degree completion program through Maricopa Community Colleges, and he explained he used to fall prey to fast fashion — but started shopping more sustainably since then. 

“My main priority when buying clothes used to be nothing but convenience,” Fuertes said. “Every time I had a new event, I had the mindset of getting a new outfit, but I looked for clothes that were cheap and stylish, hence fast fashion. Now my mindset has shifted immensely after doing quite a bit of research. I’m more conscientious of where I purchase my clothes and I tend to thrift more often than before and donate what I don’t use anymore.”

Van Duyne said new members of Thrift Jacks are always welcomed to join and educate themselves on the topics involving thrifting and sustainability. The club prides itself on trying to make the best out of virtual meetings, and these events also feature group activities where participants upcycle their own clothing or watch educational films about thrifting related topics. 

“I was not informed that there was a thrifting club until recently, but it's great to know that I can have a place on campus to donate my old clothing to help other students and people [who are] part of the NAU community,” Fuertes said. “I think that everyone should do their part in continuing the reduce, reuse, recycle habit because it not only makes you feel accomplished but also [shows you’re] doing your part to help the environment.”

Thrift Jacks hold biweekly meetings on Fridays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. If anyone is interested in getting more information on the organization, they can get connected on the NAU True Blue website or through the club’s Instagram account. 

College kids are beginning to lean on thrifting more than buying clothing at fast fashion corporations. Thrifting can be beneficial for those who want to save money and upcycle their own clothes or donate their unwanted clothing to restart the cycle and give articles new lives. Many students are learning that being more conscious of sustainable shopping practices will help the environment, even one shirt at a time.

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