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Let’s Talk Trash: Finding hidden treasures

The past few years have shifted a lot of what we do, including how we dress and shop

It’s a new year and you may be fantasizing about freshening up your wardrobe.

The past few years have shifted a lot of what we do, including how we dress and shop. You may have found yourself in pyjamas in the afternoon on a work week or scrolling through online stores at two in the morning.

As we adapt to our changing realities, we don’t need to kick our green values to the curb, nor do we need to wear the same outfit five days a week or spend a fortune buying clothes we’ve never tried on.

If you have been filling virtual shopping carts with clothes only to return them upon arrival because they don’t fit or aren’t as advertised, you might be pondering revisiting the world of actual change rooms, or at the very least, being able to see and touch the clothing you’re about to buy.

Thrifting is still a favoured hobby of many and offers many feel good spin-offs. Often it’s not so much that we want something brand new, it’s more like we want something new to us. Enter the secondhand world: the hubs where communities redistribute their wealth for bargain prices.

We all feel the profound satisfaction of getting a deal. Add to that the reduction of our environmental footprint and getting one-of-a-kind pieces for our closet and you have a winning combination.

If time is not on your side, you might choose another venue to shop: the consignment store. Consignment cuts out most of the work of thrift store shopping.

Instead of spending hours pouring through the racks to find the choicest pieces, you pay a little more for the ease of looking through a curated selection. Better still, if you participate as a donor for the store, you will end up with in store credit to spend.

There’s no need to commit to buying more, however. You might be simplifying your wardrobe and instead opt for a cheque.

Perhaps less common at the moment, but due for a spring comeback, is the clothing swap. This is by far the best deal going.

There are all kinds of versions of this concept, one of which being when a few friends purge the excess from their household’s closets and drop off a garbage bag on each other’s porch. Whatever isn’t a match can be passed along to another friend or dropped off at a thrift or consignment store.

These days, many secondhand stores are finding themselves short-staffed and overwhelmed with donations, so it’s great to first look at other ways of redistributing our excess. Social media platforms are a good option for items less likely to need to be tried on, such as shoes, jackets and sweaters.

It’s also possible that your cast-offs threaten to become landfill because they’re stained, ripped or worn out. You can give another shot at life to your textiles by cutting them up for use as rags for cleaning or in the garage.

If it’s simply a broken zipper, lost button or small tear, you might ask the seamstress in your life to do a trade. Their skills for yours, whatever they might be. More than ever, these kinds of community-level exchanges bring a smile and reduce our feeling of isolation.

May you find treasures that delight both you and the planet.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste reduction education program. For more information, email