Every year, we generate more than 70 billion pounds of textile waste. Since many of these textiles are made from synthetic materials, they stay in landfills for more than 200 years – that and other billions of clothing from previous years. When I stumbled upon this information, I could not help but feel partly responsible for this problem.

When I was younger, I thought following trends and having the latest in fashion are “cool”. But when I realized it’s not helping the planet at all, I made it my mission to help reduce waste by shopping at thrift stores as much as I can. And it’s the best decision I’ve made so far.

1. It’s cheap.

Thrift stores are the best places to find fashionable and designer pieces at very affordable prices. If you’re patient enough, you can find unused ones for $10 or less. I got these pairs of ZARA pumps and Mossimo platform heels for $6 and $7 only.

2. It helps keep more clothing out of landfills.

Eighty-five percent of billions of tons of clothing goes to landfills. When you go thrifting, you help keep some clothing out of the landfills. Just imagine if every person in the world buys at least five pounds of used clothing each year–instead of buying new ones and adding more to what we currently have–that would take out half of our annual textile waste.

Pants from UNItiques | Follow them on Instagram and Facebook

3. It helps the community.

Many thrift stores are run by charities or support various causes. For instance, Goodwill offers job training and placement services using the profit they gain from their thrift stores. An online marketplace, UNItiques, shares 85% of every single purchase to every single college girl who is saving money for tuition by selling her closet. UNItiques only gets 7% commission on every purchase. The site and its founder Alexandra Shadrow was featured in Project Runway Startup, the fashion version of Shark Tank, which allowed her to partner with THE Rebecca Minkoff.

4. It’s exciting.

I don’t know about you, but I feel excited whenever I’m thrifting. It’s like treasure hunting. It may be time-consuming but I feel good about myself when I find something I really like after sifting through racks and racks of clothing.

5. It gives you more freedom to experiment.

The price of a single brand-new clothing allows me to buy AT LEAST 3 thrift store items in mint condition. I got the pants from UNItiques for a total of $4 – which is five times less than the price in malls. This gives me the flexibility to try new styles without hurting my pocket.

So the next time you get the urge to go to the mall or shop online, why not check out thrift stores first?  You don’t only get to save money and help reduce waste but you also get to help other people. SO MUCH WIN.