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Secondhand shopping is a stylish solution to fast fashion

Fast fashion has no home in my carefully curated eco-friendly closet.
Ever since discovering the secondhand shop Petticoat Lane — downtown Cobourg in 1994 — I've had a passion for vintage fashion. The little shop smelled of mothballs but the 'Three for 25 cents' bin was irresistible with ‘new’ whimsical accessories and clothing every week: adorable cardigans, pre-loved Levi’s jeans and satin dresses straight out of the 70s. I was in love and spent so many hours digging and dreaming around Petticoat Lane. 

Second hand is stylish and sustainable
As a creative person, fashion has always been one way I’ve expressed myself, both consciously or unconsciously. By the end of high school, my closet was full of special second-hand pieces from shops around Cobourg, ON and Toronto. I also got used to receiving compliments on rare finds and weird looks from complete strangers. It fills me with so much satisfaction to share the insanely low price of a high-quality piece I just scored secondhand. I’ll then give you the name of the shop, directions, Insta handle. Whatever you need to get there. Vintage items are great conversation starters

Trading hard earned money for brand new clothes gives me an innate sense of remorse almost immediately after the transaction. It's like paying for pine cones at the Dollar Store when they're free in the park.

You are what you wear
My love of vintage clothing has become less about style (and budget) these days and more about sustainability. This shift happened around 2020 when I noticed brands like SHEIN popping up and advertising super cheap clothes all over the internet, primarily to super broke Generation Zs and Millennials. With more and more mainstream brands making poor quality pieces that are designed to go out of style in weeks, it’s no wonder the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. This trend has been going on and getting worse since 2001 when outsourcing manufacturing to factories overseas and cheap labour became the norm thanks to globalisation (and greed). Fast or slow, new clothing production requires tons of water, electricity and land to grow materials. 'You are what you wear' should be the new, 'You are what you eat.' 

How to thrift like a pro
When Dana suggested last week that we go thrifting at Value Village, of course I was all in and then then remembered to write a list! If you don't have a list before second hand shopping, you’re guaranteed to spend more than what you budgeted for and leave without what you went for. Here are a few more thrifting tips: 

  • Bring bags 
  • If you’re going to Value Village, donate something from your closet or kitchen for a discount 
  • Don't go hangry 
  • Dress for undressing 
  • Learn how to discern quality 

As Dana and I looked through the aisles, along with other thrift shoppers, and talked about fashion, home decor and consumption, I felt the same sense of enjoyment I felt when I discovered Petticoat Lane. With climate change in the news and on everyone’s minds, second hand will no doubt be the first choice for more consumers in the future. I look forward to the day when wearing vintage is in vogue. Until then, I hope to let you know that SHEIN hauls are harmful to the planet and there’s nothing posh about that.

Eco-friendly products we love

This is where you can find K-media's favourite planet-friendly products, sourced from independent shops around Toronto.

Organic rose oils for radiant skin in a glass bottle. What more could you ask for from a face cream?


The best thing about this bar of soap is not the smell or the suds but that it doesn't come in a plastic container. 


With toasty notes of cardamom, black pepper and cedar, this 100 percent soy wax candle is ideal for winter.


Ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly laundry detergent packed into a tiny strip. 


This enormous, thick cotton canvas tote bag is perfect for market days and better than plastic in every way.