Make Earth Day Every Day

By Avery Ballmann

Secondhand style is sustainable, fashionable

Although Earth Day has come and gone on the calendar, it doesn’t mean we should leave those practices in April. Personal sustainability is composting, recycling, planting a tree, but it can also be shopping for secondhand clothing. Waco alone has more than 10 thrift and consignment stores filled with clothes that can be given another life. Many of these stores are in partnership with local nonprofits such as Hidden Treasures by Caritas, The Clothesline with Mission Waco, Salvation Army Family Store and Things from the Heart with Shepherd’s Heart — which is where personal stylist Hannah Beamer chose to style this month’s looks from.

“We live in a world that is consumed with stuff and I believe there is already more than enough out there to curate unique finds that have plenty of life left,” Beamer said. “Shopping second hand allows you the opportunity to find one-of-a-kind pieces, not just trendy items that everyone else might have.”

The outfits styled by Beamer were inspired by her Southern California roots. The neutral colors of cream remind her of the seashells on the beach and muted greens are palm trees she’d see often and the different shades of blue look like the ocean. When thrifting, Beamer suggests creating a Pinterest or mood board before you go to gain inspiration.

“I completely understand that thrift stores can feel overwhelming,” Beamer said. “I often recommend having a game plan before you thrift.”

When skimming the aisles of a thrift store, look for your favorite colors and patterns. Beamer said this process will become easier with more practice. What she calls a “thrifter’s eye” is when a person can find their own treasures hidden within the rack — these finds look different for everyone. For Beamer, her eyes always comb the aisles for neutral colors.

While a big bonus to thrifting is keeping your wardrobe sustainable, it also is significantly more affordable. Thrift stores have all sorts of brands on their racks. Some stores have more high-end brands than others, however when Beamer thrifts she said she often doesn’t look for a brand but rather the item’s fabric and its quality.

“I find it important that your wardrobe serves you well, with clothing that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful, and achieving this kind of wardrobe does not have to break the bank,” Beamer said.

Many times, items in the thrift store are brand new with tags still on it. This is a result of the fast fashion society we are living in.

According to Boston University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 34 billion pounds of textiles are wasted in the United States alone. Sixty-six percent of textile waste goes straight to our landfills, with some items of clothing decomposing for over 100 years. Because fast fashion has become an issue in the industry, websites are now creating platforms to shop second hand. Beamer suggests shopping with Poshmark and Mercari.

“Shopping second hand has so many benefits,” Beamer said. “For one, it’s a way to be sustainable and ethical for the environment by avoiding the fast fashion industry.”

Another benefit of thrifting is being able to support local nonprofits. Things from the Heart works in conjunction with Shepherd’s Heart — a local food pantry that fed 32,749 families in 2023 alone. The items donated to Shepherd’s Heart are given to those in need and whatever is left is sold at Things from the Heart to help pay staff salary and creates employment opportunities. When you thrift from the shop, you not only help the environment, but the nonprofit that aids others in need.

So next time you donate clothes or need some new basics, consider thrifting at a local store tied to a nonprofit. Beamer said once you start thrifting it can quickly become addicting, but at least it comes with great benefits.

“Thrifting is definitely hit and miss,” Beamer said. “It’s a hunt for sure — sometimes you have to really dig to find the gold, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. It’s so much fun as you get into it, and you begin to develop that thrifter’s eye.”

Kim Sue Petzold: Cream fitted maxi skirt, white tank top, black saddle purse. Cream mid-length skirt with white and blue checkered top, cream cardigan and rattan handbag. Long mustard puff-sleeve dress with rattan tote bag. White maxi skirt with gingham blue long-puff sleeve shirt and tan leather boots, Things from the Heart