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How To Become an Intentional and Mindful Thrift Shopper

By Rachel

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Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Rachel Granholm

Be a conscious consumer! I’m sharing how to become an intentional and mindful thrift shopper.

Do you love scoring amazing deals while also reducing your environmental impact? But, at the same time, tired of mindlessly buying and cluttering your home with things you never use? If so, then learning how to become an intentional and mindful thrift shopper will be so handy. In this article, we will dive into the world of mindful thrift shopping. Learn how you can become a savvy and responsible consumer, even at the thrift store!

Thrifting a Curated Home with Intention

With the rise of fast fashion and its harmful effects on our planet, more and more people are turning to thrift shopping as a sustainable and budget-friendly alternative.

However, over the years, I’ve learned that, even when purchasing items that are just a few dollars, weeding out the un-necessary finds is a necessary step. You see, as much as we would like, we just can’t have everything that catches our eye, especially when thrifting.

By only purchasing thrifted goods that we actually need or serve a specific purpose, it’s helping to train our minds that we can live with less.

a row of thrifted vintage books

Thrifting is a way to help curb overspending and overbuying. Over time, and it does take time to flip that ‘buy, buy, buy’ mindset, mindful thrifting teaches us the power of conscious consumerism.

If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry! I’m sharing, through specific tips, real-life examples, and expert advice, how to make the most out of your thrift store trips and curate conscious yet stylish home decor. Get ready to embrace a new way of shopping and join the growing community of intentional thrift shoppers!

vintage hobnail milk glass in a hutch

Shop Mindfully with Eco-Friendly Finds

Being a Conscious Consumer

In today’s modern age, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and companies trying to sell us the next best thing. They make us think we always need the new and best version of something we already have that still works perfectly fine.

And, truly, I’ve been there. Years ago, before I got into thrifting, I had a closet jam packed with clothing and shoes that I thought I needed. I had a very bad online shopping habit that cost me thousands of dollars in brand new goods trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

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You guys! That’s not sustainable nor is it healthy and, for me, was completely exhausting.

I was drowning in all of this stuff yet none of it made me truly happy.

It took a lot of effort to let go of these un-needed material possessions and turn to a much more sustainable way of consuming things…thrifting!!

vintage hankies in an antique mall

Mindful Shopping FAQ’s for How To Become an Intentional and Mindful Thrift Shopper

What is Conscious Consumerism?

In a nutshell, conscious consumerism is about choosing mindful and thoughtful shopping habits. The goal of this method is to purchase less while putting sustainability at the forefront.

How to Be a Conscious Consumer?

This can be accomplished in many ways. You can purchase from companies that follow high ethical standards, invest in durable goods that will last many years, or buy fair trade items.

You can also:

  • buy local
  • shop secondhand
  • think quality over quantity
  • don’t buy in to fast fashion

Why Is It Important to be a Mindful Consumer?

Applying this mindset shift to your everyday life helps to reduce big-picture issues such as excessive waste, pollution, and carbon emissions. It’s an overall healthier way of living and the first step at taking care of the planet.

vintage thrifted decor styled in a hutch

How to Become an Intentional and Mindful Thrift Shopper

When I discovered thrift shopping, my whole world changed. Literally.

Through thrifting, my love of vintage decor was born. I also learned that I could purchase needed items for myself and my family such as clothing, home decor, pet supplies, and so much more!

But, as I stated above, even thrift shopping takes restraint and saying ‘no’ to certain things.

As a minimalist, here are 5 mindful tips that I try and abide by when I go to the thrift store. Let’s get into them!

an antique booth with vintage decor

1. Thrift with Purpose.

Before you leave the house to go thrifting, take a minute and assess what you need for your home or life.

Maybe one of your cooking pots is worn out and could use one in better condition. How do your wooden spoons look? Do you need a lamp for an end table? What clothing do you need more of for the specific season at hand?

This mindset gets you in the mental space of going thrift shopping with intention and not going thrifting just for the sake of going thrifting.

vintage thrifted milk glass styled on a shelf

Each time I go into a thrift store, I always have a running list of specific things I’m looking for. For example, right now, I’m on the hunt for a vintage wooden mirror to hang on a wall in my bedroom. So, each thrifting trip I check to see if there is anything that meets this criteria. If there’s not, I don’t buy it!

It’s so important to thrift with purpose and intention. For me, buying less, even at the thrift store, helps me practice restraint, keeps me on a budget, and makes me feel happier.

a vintage creamer from an antique store

2. Practice Mindfulness with Thrift Shopping.

When shopping, especially thrift shopping where the prices are low, it’s helpful to be cognizant of what you are putting in your cart. Because, even though pricing is cheap, it’s SO easy to spend way more than you need to.

Here are some mindful questions that I ask myself, when I’m thrifting, to help get you started:

  • Can I use this item for more than one season? (this applies to clothing, as well)
  • How else can I use this item besides its intended purpose?
  • Is (insert thing here) worth the price listed? Can I find it elsewhere for a better price?
  • Do I actually need it? Or can it wait until a later time?
  • How often will I use this?
Mindful thrift shopping takes practice but, over time, you will begin to notice subtle shifts in your spending habits. Now, this is my very favorite way to shop!

a thrifted ironstone pitcher with flowers

3. Focus on Needs vs. Wants When Thrifting.

This one can get kinda tricky and I’m no where near perfect on this tip. Because I collect vintage decor and is part of my job as a vintage decor blogger, I have to be careful with not over-buying things I don’t actually need.

To me, wants at the thrift store would be things like:

  • decor for my vintage collections
  • a shirt that is a brand I like
  • a new pair of pants that I don’t need but only buy because they fit nicely
  • a dress that I will only wear for one occasion
  • extra toys for Tilly

versus needs at the thrift store:

  • a gift for someone
  • clothing needed for the season at hand (right now I need a few new tops for Summer)
  • kitchen items to replace worn out ones
  • anything that I will use for a hobby (biking, fishing, craft supplies)
  • home office supplies
If you are in the same boat of buying things you don’t actually need, my advice here is to allot yourself a very specific budget.

Every time I go thrifting, I give myself about $10 to spend on wants and $10 to spend on needs. More often than not I spend much less than that and come in way under budget. Give it a try and see how it goes…I think you will surprise yourself 🙂

thrift store shelves full of used goods

4. Have Gratitude for Shopping Secondhand.

This one is personal. When I first started shopping at thrift stores, I felt a little ashamed. Because, at the time, I couldn’t afford to shop at retail stores for new clothing or goods for my home. And, that made me feel sad. Like…what’s wrong with me to not be able to afford the things I was used to buying?!

If this is you, I feel you. I understand and completely get it.

But, I’m here to tell you that thrifting is WAY BETTER than any other shopping. Period.

vintage creamers for sale in an antique booth

I am SO grateful for those early days of thrifting and what it taught me. I honestly don’t know where I would be without thrift shopping. Even though we are much more financially sound these days, I still prefer to go thrift shopping over anything else. It’s just a meaningful and pleasant way to shop!

My mindset has completely shifted and now I CRAVE secondhand shopping. Whenever I step foot inside a large retail store, I just don’t want to be there and am eager to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Just to name a few amazing benefits of shopping secondhand, it reduces waste, is budget-friendly, helps the environment by offsetting carbon emissions, and helps with an overall healthier lifestyle. All good things to be grateful for when it comes to thrifting 🙂

how to be a mindful and intentional thrift shopper

5. Reduce Impulse Purchases While Thrifting.

Lastly, thrifting teaches us how to not impulse buy! Impulse purchases are usually things that you may regret buying later and, in my experience, tend to be way too expensive. Why not save your money and only purchase things that you need?

This idea goes back to the wants versus needs category. If a thing is not worn out or can still be used in one way or another, you don’t need to buy a new one just yet.

a vintage thrifted milk glass banana stand

It’s super easy to fill up your thrift store cart and then get everything home, only to realize you don’t have any room for half the stuff you bought!

Whenever I’m at thrift store and find a thing that I like, I’m very careful not to do the above. To help with that, I ask myself some mindful questions.

  1. Will it make me happy a year from now?
  2. Do I need it today or can it wait until a later time?
  3. What would my life be like with it? Without it?
  4. Will this thing add value to my everyday life or can I do without?
  5. Is it within my set budget?

This might seem silly at first, but trust me…it helps immensely, especially when trying to curb impulse shopping! Over time, it will get easier to discern an impulse buy from something you actually need or that will bring joy to your everyday life.

a vintage marshmallow tin filled with pink crabapple stems

Closing Tidbits on How to Become an Intentional and Mindful Thrift Shopper

That wraps up my tips on how to become an intentional and mindful thrift shopper! These habits will take practice but the benefits are well worth the effort. By implementing the advice outlined in this article, you can save both money and the planet while also discovering unique, one-of-a-kind items. It’s my sincere hope that you can try a few of them on your next thrifting trip!

Be encouraged to thrive as mindful consumers and make a positive difference, one thrifted item at a time.

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Leave me a comment. Has thrifting helped you to buy less? I love hearing from you!

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a shelf full of vintage goods

If you are new here, I’m Rachel, the writer and content creator here at The Antiqued Journey. I’m so happy to have you! I encourage you to stop by the ‘about me’ page to get to know me a little more.

Here on the blog, you will find loads of inspiration for decorating with vintage and antique decor, simple DIY crafts and many thrifting adventures. If that interests you, I invite you to sign up for my e-mail. You will receive a free digital download as a thank you!

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Other Thrifting Posts to Enjoy

a vintage flower frog with other vintage decor
Vintage Decor for Any Room

a vintage thrifted ironstone pitcher with flowers
Decorate Using Thrift Store Finds

thrifted decor for Spring
Thrifty Spring Decor

8 Comments. Leave new

  • MaryJo Materazo
    May 9, 2024 7:39 pm

    Such a great article Rachel. I need to practice some of these myself. lol. XO- MaryJo

  • Wow my friend, I love all of these tips and nuggets of wisdom you shared! That needs vs. wants category can be a tough one sometimes! Implementing new habits can be easier said than done, but I’m going to give it my best shot! Thak you!

    • Rachel Granholm
      May 13, 2024 6:27 pm

      Hey! Thanks so much!! I know, right?! Super tough but it takes practice and, if we try our best, that’s all that matters!

  • […] How to Be a Mindful Thrifter […]

  • […] Thrift shopping is an amazing way to outfit your home for specific seasons or holidays on a budget! […]

  • This was such a great post, Rachel. I was just talking to my Mom about this exact same subject last week. I think people just don’t realize how many things they have until they see them all together. Not only that a lot of people stockpiled items during the height of Covid and still have that mindset, you know? Anyway, I love these posts because they’re not only educational but they also inspire me to do better so keep them coming. They help in more ways than you know. Also, I’m dying to hear what you think about the laundry sheets so keep us posted on those too. Big hugs, CoCo

    • Rachel Granholm
      May 22, 2024 2:17 pm

      thank you!! That’s so funny!
      Yes…it’s so crazy how fast things just pile up without even realizing it. I go through closets, drawers, hutches, etc…on a monthly basis because I just can’t stand to drown in clutter.
      I’m really happy that these are helpful…they take me a long time to write but I think it’s so worth it 🙂
      I’ll be starting the laundry sheets this week so I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks, friend!


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Rachel from The Antiqued Journey blog

Hey! I’m Rachel!

I’m so glad you are here! Old things are my jam. Antique malls and thrift stores are my happy places.

Here on the blog I love to share my excitement, knowledge, and ideas about all things antique, vintage, and thrifted. Let’s journey together!

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