Pre-Loving Life: Confessions of an Ethical Hoarder

Pre-Loving Life: Confessions of an Ethical Hoarder

Megan Judge is here to show you how fun, ethical, creative and darn cool the thrifting life is. 

We all love to shop. Sometimes there’s nothing more therapeutic than exchanging our hard earned cash for beautiful clothes and trinkets. However, the true cost of this is finally becoming more widely known and it’s getting harder and harder to justify fast fashion. But what’s the alternative?

For me and many others, the idea of living life out of a minimalist capsule wardrobe is a little bleak. I know the phrase is quality not quantity - and this is what most ethical fashion producers pride themselves on - but let's be honest, the world can be a pretty dreary place and sometimes quantity definitely comes out on top. Whether this form of retail therapy is actually a healthy pastime is not for me to say, all I know is that I love surrounding myself in useless unnecessary belongings. This is where secondhand shopping comes in; you can go all out, raid the charity shops and hoard mounds of treasures without destroying our world in the process. Even better, your purchases are supporting good causes and stopping items ending in landfill to a doom of rust and decay.  I'm here to prove that secondhand is the best type of shopping. Here are 4 tips to get the most out of the thifting life.

1. Be Charitable

Let’s start with a trusted charity shop - the ever growing industry taking over our high streets. And I love them for it! Shopping in them leaves no losers. You’re recycling items and supporting a good cause all in one go. In my experience, I’ve found that the key to charity shopping is building a repertoire with the people who work and volunteer in them. Learn their names. Praise their work. This familiarity will allow staff to know you and recognise the types of items you buy. Pretty soon they’ll be finding little treasures for you.

And it’s always best to donate in return. Make it a two-way relationship so one can also enjoy your treasures. But, please make sure all of your donations are clean and sellable, otherwise it will have the opposite effect. No one wants dirty underwear, odd shoes or broken fairy lights. 

2. Get Creative

If you’re planning a thrifting spree, try drafting up a Pinterest board beforehand. This way you can highlight the kind of items you’re looking for whilst snagging some inspiration for those charity shop finds begging to be up-cycled. If you’re after a nice bright, bold vase but can only find a white one; paint it. Looking for a floral mini skirt? How about shortening that vintage St Michaels find. There is so much out there being thrown away, but with a willingness to breathe new life into these old trinkets, you could end up with something even better and unique than anything purchased brand new. 

3. Widen Your Search

Don’t forget about the good old car-boot. These are ripe for bargain finding and a perfect opportunity to work on those haggling skills. Whilst haggling in a charity shop is just plain bad etiquette, car booters live for it. The same sentiments go for other local selling options such as gumtree and Facebook marketplace. In all these cases the key to a good bargain is to find sellers who just want rid of what they have to offer. But keep in mind that anyone selling specialist items with knowledge of their value is likely to be happy to hold out until they sell it for the price it's worth. Also, don’t be afraid to widen your location search and look outside your area. In most cases people are happy to post for the extra cost - just make sure to pay via PayPal goods and services, I learnt that the hard way! 

Another good tip for Facebook shopping is that there is literally a buy/sell/trade group for anything and everything. So if what you are looking for or what you collect is more specific, try searching for a Facebook group. You can find them for wooden toys, ladie’s dungarees, breastfeeding-friendly clothing and even specific brands such as Lucy and Yak or Schleich toy animals! Get searching for your favourite goodies. There really is so much already out there waiting for you! 

4. Enjoy eBay

eBay is probably the most popular search engine for scooping up desirable treasure bargains, so here’s a few tips to using it efficiently.

  1. Search likely spelling mistakes. You might find exactly what you are after- with no one else competing for it due to a simple spelling error!
  2. Find items where bidding ends at an awkward time - when most people are either at work or asleep preferably! This narrows your competition.
  3. Patience is key. Decide what your upper limit is and put your bid in at the last possible moment. This not only prevents you being outbid but also protects you from yourself! It's easy to get carried away increasing your bid in the chase.

Always check sellers’ other items - there may be something else you are looking for and can combine postage costs.

5. Have Fun!

The most important piece of thrifting advice is to simply enjoy it. Take pride in it. You’ll have fun! Everyday thrifting should feel like a treasure hunt. Long gone are the days of second hand items being associated with shame and unwanted hand me downs. Now it's chic to proudly declare that your clothes and treasures are thrifted. Whilst thrifting is still the more affordable option, it’s no longer assumed that you couldn’t afford new. Instead, it's assumed you care about this planet and the people who inhabit it. It also gives you an opportunity to play around with fashion, make things your own way, and show off your unique sense of style. It's an opportunity to create your own path.


This blog was written by Megan Judge. Follow her over on Instagram @megan_the_mediocre_mum for inspiration on ethical shopping and thifted vegan finds.