Thrifting: A Sustainable and Budget-Friendly Way to Shop and Support Your Community

By Sara Khattak, NVFS Development and Communications Intern

Thrifting has been a popular trend in recent years, and for a good reason. One of the most significant benefits of thrifting is cost savings, and, as a college student, I try to save money wherever possible. So, to experience thrifting for myself, I established a budget and visited Northern Virginia Family Service’s Clock Tower Thrift Shop in Falls Church.

NVFS operates the Clock Tower Thrift Shop for “…thrifters, collectors, savvy shoppers, and clients on a budget,” and its revenues help fund NVFS’ programs which help the people in our community find stability, self-sufficiency, and well-being.

Three Benefits of Thrifting

According to ThredUp, nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials spent a significant proportion of their apparel budget on second-hand items than just five years ago. Because second-hand items are typically sold for less than the original retail price, they are a more accessible option for those on a budget. It’s also a great way to find high-quality items that may have been too expensive to purchase new.

Another benefit of thrifting is that it helps the community. Many thrift stores, like NVFS’ Clock Tower Thrift Shop, are run by nonprofit organizations, while some thrift is for-profit businesses.  If shopping at a nonprofit thrift store is important, you can check a store’s website to see if a nonprofit organization runs them and what mission its revenue supports. By shopping at a nonprofit thrift store, you help your community by supporting a charity as well as stimulating the local economy.

As more information comes to light about fast fashion’s harmful and unsustainable nature, thrifting is a great option to reduce clothing’s environmental impact. When you buy second-hand items, you’re helping to keep them out of landfills, reducing the demand for new resources and reducing the carbon footprint of production and shipping.

Patience Pays Off While Thrifting

As a person who dresses modestly, I can only wear a few trendy clothes since they tend to be cropped in some areas. With both online and in-person thrifting, I can quickly sift through more modest long-sleeved shorts or pants, and the diverse size range means I will find something that fits perfectly.

When it comes to shopping for thrift items, patience is vital. You may have to spend some time sifting through items to find the perfect piece, but the effort is worth it when you find something special. Thrift stores carry a variety of brands, old and new. Additionally, stores are constantly receiving new donated items, so it’s important to check back regularly if you’re searching for something specific. In an age of social media and microtrends, thrift stores provide unique pieces that help you curate your style, regardless of what’s trending. To get the most out of your thrifting experience, it’s important to have an open mind and a willingness to be creative. With a bit of imagination, you can turn second-hand items into something unique and special.

My $8 Haul from the Clock Tower Thrift Shop

  1. Sealed IKEA picture frame
  2. Portable clip fan
  3. 4×6 photo album
  4. Unopened Philosophy body wash (originally $22 new!)
  5. Hello Kitty mini cards
  6. Hello Kitty dual mini highlighters


I value thrifting as a sustainable, budget-friendly, and fun way to shop. Whether looking for unique items or simply trying to save money, thrifting offers something for everyone. Give it a try and see what you can find! Shop at or donate to the NVFS’ Clock Tower Thrift Store.


Sara Khattak is an intern in the development and communications department at Northern Virginia Family Service, a student at George Mason University, and an avid thrift shopper.