Thrifting in Rideau-Vanier and why we love it!

In Rideau-Vanier, we have excellent second-hand stores, with the full range of the spectrum from a free store at the University of Ottawa, to thrift, to consignment and even designer consignment on Beechwood. We also have several Buy Nothing groups in our ward! More on that below.

Fast fashion is one of the biggest polluters in the world. The numbers are staggering:

  • Fashion makes up 10% of global emissions, the same amount as the EU.
  • 85% of all textiles end up in the landfill!
  • The fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water in the world.
  • Fast fashion is labour-intensive and production usually happens in developing countries where workers are exploited and work in unsafe conditions.

Read more here, if you can stomach it.

Buying second hand is better for the environment because you are buying something that has already used all those precious, non-renewable resources. They don’t have to used again to create a new item. Thrifting is cheaper than buying new, and it can be really fun!

Buying second hand is not only about getting cheaper stuff. There is something for everyone. You want to stand out from the crowd? You can find things that are unique like vintage or European imports. You love trends, and want to wear what everyone else is wearing? Hello! Trends repeat themselves, so you will find them in the thrift stores. And if designer items are your thing, you can find tons of name brands for a fraction of the price that they were new.

New clothing these days is not made to last. Even items from expensive stores like Aritzia start to pill and break down after even a single wash. There are TONS of Aritzia items in second hand stores for this very reason. I bought my son a Nike Tech Fleece set for Christmas for over $200 that is already pilling. Second hand clothes, on the other hand, have stood the test of time. They have been washed and used, so you know that they are sturdier than new items.

It’s not just about clothes, either. You can usually find books, household goods, art, and furniture at second hand shops, as well. There is no need to break the bank to furnish a new apartment, get more plates for a dinner party, or to refresh your wardrobe. You can find Christmas decorations, gift bags…You do not need to buy any of this stuff new.

Winter gear is another great thing to get used. Winter coats, boots, and other warm items get a lot of use here in Ottawa. There’s no need to buy a designer winter coat, or expensive boots for the winter. All this stuff will get treated harshly because of the salt on our roads. So just buy it used, and donate it when you are done with it.

All thrift stores are not made equal

 

It’s good to distinguish between charity shops, consignment, and places like Value Village. In this article, I recommend visiting some of our charity shops, like the May Court Bargain Box, and Maison Marie Louise. These are social enterprises with a charitable cause.

I do not support Salvation Army Thrift Stores, because their stores fund their emergency shelters, and I am opposed to emergency shelters as a band-aid solution to the homelessness crisis. I am also opposed to the proposed shelter at 333 Montreal Road. I support permanent solutions like supportive housing.

Value Village is not my favourite, either, because they are for-profit. Savers Value Village revenue was 1.4 billion in 2022, up 19% from 2021. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-private-equity-backed-savers-value-village-targets-27-billion/

You will find that it is not cheap, sometimes selling used items for two or three times their original price. However, they do have a very wide selection, which can be useful for parents to find items for their kids.

I would recommend visiting our locally-owned shops. Below is a list of some of my favourite second-hand stores in Rideau Vanier so far. I haven’t visited them all yet! Please visit these wonderful local businesses.

 

“Buy Nothing” groups

 

Have you heard of Buy Nothing? These are groups on Facebook where people get rid of, or pick up, free stuff from their neighbours. That’s right! Free! Most people have way too much clutter in their houses. Too many clothes, and other things they don’t use any more. Find your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and you can find so many things you might need, including food and pet items, completely free. You also get to meet your neighbors in the process.

Learn more at https://buynothingproject.org

 

This post is also available in French.

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