Tips for Shopping at Goodwill: Sustainable Fashion on a Budget

I am passionate about ethical and sustainable fashion. This means that I like to make sure my clothes are made in factories with ethical conditions that treat and pay their employees well. It also means that I try not to think of clothes as “disposable”, but rather think of them as valuable garments that should be loved and cherished!

Why Shopping at Goodwill is Ethical and Sustainable

Many aren’t aware that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world next to oil. 26 billion pounds of clothes end up in the landfill every year, and let off harmful gasses rather than decomposing. Shocking, isn’t it? This is why one of the best (and most affordable) ways you can purchase clothing in an ethical and sustainable way is by shopping from thrift stores! I love shopping at any secondhand store, but especially love Goodwill for clothes, and even household goods! I went shopping at my local Goodwill and found SO many treasures! Five outfits in total... and that’s saying something, because I’m very picky about what I allow into my closet. 

Without further ado… here are my outfits! Anything with a link is something I have purchased from an ethical/sustainable brand on my own, and is not from Goodwill.

Outift 1

Old Navy striped shirt | Black cutoff shorts | Pink gap hat | Eileen Fisher shoes

I had been searching for a pair of black cut off shorts for quite some time, and these were the perfect length! I know I will wear each of these pieces again and again since they are simple closet staple pieces.

Outfit 2

Flowy floral dress | Basket handbag | Sunglasses | ABLE sandals

I was super excited about all three of these finds! This dress is so beautiful and unique- I love the bold bright flower embroidery. The basket handbag is super on trend, but functional and small enough to actually carry around! I found these oversized sunglasses at the very end, and they’re perfect for lounging by the pool!

Outfit 3

Black skinny jeans (found brand new) | White tank top | Nordstrom colorful cardigan | Sseko hoop earrings

I’ve already worn this outfit several times. White tanks and t-shirts are absolute staples for me, and I love that this tank was off-white. This cardigan is Nordstrom brand, and is perfect for carrying around in the summer when you step inside a cool building. I didn't find these earrings at Goodwill, but they are my absolutely favorites and are made by women in Uganda. They are super lightweight and go with everything!

Outfit 4

Green Lush top | Grey tube skirt | Tan professional bag | Sseko hoop earrings (Use stylemefair15 for 15% off)

I’ve always loved Lush brand tops by Nordstrom, and this one was in great shape! This tube skirt is comfy and the perfect length for casual wear! I also snagged this professional bag since I don’t own one like it. This would make a perfect interview or office bag!

Outfit 5

Joes jeans | Black shirt | Black leather belt| Sseko crossover sandals (Use stylemefair15 for 15% off) | JOYN Tote bag (Use Stylemefair15 for 15% off)

I was SO stoked to discover these Joes jeans. I originally intended to turn them into shorts, but I love them so much that I think I’ll keep them as is! I have a similar pair of ripped jeans that I wear far too much, so these will allow me to rotate between the two. These are a little big around the waist, but it makes them perfect for belting and creating a “boyfriend jean” look. This belt is genuine leather and has quickly become my new favorite!

All five outfits came to a total of $119. Goodwill kindly gifted the clothes so I could take my readers along on this awesome shopping experience! If I had been shopping on a half-off Saturday, that would have been only $60. Many argue that shopping ethical and sustainable fashion is too expensive, but I think this shopping trip would beg to differ!

Tips for Shopping at Goodwill

Want to find some killer outfits at Goodwill too? Here are my best Goodwill shopping tips:

  • Go every other Saturday for half off day!
  • Go to a location in a wealthy area to find higher end clothing. My favorite location in Phoenix: Scottsdale Rd & Greenway!
  • Start with accessories.
    • Many find secondhand shopping to be overwhelming. My tip for avoiding overwhelm is to always start with bags, belts, hats, and shoes. There are less of these items and they’re one size fits all, so you’ll feel accomplished that you already went through several sections in a short amount of time. In this trip alone I found one hat, two bags, and two belts!
  • Tackle one section at a time.
    • Don’t go back and forth between sections. Commit to one section and look through all of the colors you like in your size (and even one size above, you never know what you’ll find!)
  • Check for holes or stains
  • Grab everything you like- you never know what might fit!
  • Jeans that are too big can be turned into shorts or belted.
  • Wash clothes right away.
    • This should be a given for any clothing item (yes, even new clothes… they have chemicals!)

I hope these outfits and shopping tips have inspired you to head to your local Goodwill and get shopping! It's always an adventure, and you'll always come out with more than you bargained for (literally). Happy hunting!

*This article may contain affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission for any purchases made. Opinions are 100% my own and unbiased. Thank you for supporting Style Me Fair with your purchases.