Thrifting in the midst of COVID-19
Author: Pooja Agrawal. Pooja delves into the impact of COVID-19 on thrifting and the theory of circular economics.


A circular economic* model revolves around the reusing and refurbishing of existing commodities already in the system, to minimize economic and industrial effort in the production and distribution of fresh goods.

Thrifting, along with the financial and fashionable benefits that it has, has also been gaining popularity largely because it fits right in with the ideology of a circular economy. The idea of reusing clothes and other accessories to lower the burden of raw materials on the planet has resonated with a lot of people who are passionate about sustainability.

I have always had a disproportionate amount of interest in all things sustainable, and this formed the basis of my switch to slow fashion from fast fashion. In the current pandemic, however, this seems easier said than done.

An understandable air of caution has enveloped the idea of thrift shopping, as there is ambiguity surrounding the transmission of the virus. Thrift for Good (TFG) have addressed this by putting protocols in place: the clothes TFG receive are not only quarantined for a set period, but they are also washed thoroughly before they are catalogued for sale. We also take the utmost care while handling and delivering these clothes to our consumers.

However, this is not possible for a lot of organisations that may have thrift stands at markets or in physical locations only. Many organisations have put their events on hold, which is why purchasing items online is such a great way to keep thrifting alive during this time.  


It is important to keep the circular economy culture alive, not just because it enables thrifting, but also because there have been multiple signs that this is the way to live in a post COVID-19 era. A circular economy allows for lean production, maximum output with minimum input, and nothing sourced externally, making it a very cost effective model; a model which is likely to be adopted by numerous companies in a bid to cut down spending. Timberland (in a pre-COVID-19 era), for example, has partnered with a rubber tires manufacturer to produce shoes from recycled tires.

Here are some ways you can contribute to the culture:

  • Promote the use of reusable products, and invest in things you can use repeatedly (g. quality cloth bags, durable shoes etc.).
  • Find out the carbon footprint of your local energy supplier, and switch to a green energy supplier if you have the
  • Boycott fast fashion groups, and big corporations – instead buy local and/or second hand, and be on the lookout for greener alternatives to everything you use in your daily
  • Go paperless: working from home means that you can reduce the amount of paper trails that you make while
  • Use technology: there are several applications/chrome extensions that help you choose a greener lifestyle more consciously.

The list is not extensive, and almost everything on it is achievable with minimal effort. In trying times like today, a global pandemic is even more reason to be kinder to the planet and do our bit to minimize the usage of resources in the name of mindless consumerism.

While we hope COVID is a thing of the past very soon, we hope some of the lessons remain: to slow down, take better care of the environment, and live with a “less can be more” attitude. It is possible to shop low cost, but high quality. Second hand is the future.

*Circular economy: (n) - A circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.

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