No New Things: A Guide To Sustainable Shopping in Brooklyn

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Often, the new items that we purchase can be bought second-hand, thrifted, in new condition, vintage, or otherwise pre-owned. Buying second-hand keeps perfectly good items from landing in the trash and keeps new items from needing to be manufactured. Many of these stores also sell brand new liquidated stock — usually from other stores that over purchased, ordered the wrong type of item, or for some other reason needed to get rid of stock. Plus, the sending-hand and resale market is a treasure trove of vintage and unique items at a fraction of the cost. 

Brooklyn is a thrifting mecca, with vintage stores for almost everything, from furniture to clothes to books and even kitchenware. We included some online marketplaces for easier browsing, but we recommend the in-person thrift store experience — you never know what treasure you will stumble upon!

The Big Reuse: Located in Gowanus, The Big Reuse Center offers a mix of wares from books to clothes, appliances, toys, tech, and furniture. As part of their mission to create a circular economy and encourage a more sustainable New York, they keep as much as they can from landfills — they even have a notable compost program, partially funded by their second-hand sales. Visit The Big Reuse Center in Gowanus, or shop their online marketplace and their eBay bookshop.

Housing Works: A mission-driven operation, Housing Works aims to end the homelessness crisis and HIV/Aids crisis in New York. The Housing Works Community Healthcare network is part of this mission, offering people the care they need but at an affordable cost. The charity has a variety of stores to support its work: the Housing Works bookstore, with stacks of discounted books, furniture thrift stores, clothing thrift stores, and more. Stop by the Housing Works thrift store in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope, or visit one of their many locations in Manhattan

Goodwill: GoodWill helps prepare individuals for a career by offering support services such as English learning, access to child care, continuing education, and transportation. The Goodwill stores help support their mission and sell donated clothes, books, and random housewares. Because of the donation model, the selection changes from store to store. Find your local store here. 

L Train Vintage/Urban Jungle: LTrain Vintage operates many thrift and vintage stores in New York. They offer shoes and clothing at a discounted rate. Urban Jungle in Bushwick, their largest store, is a warehouse-like space with more racks of flannel shirts and jeans than is imaginable. 

Beacon’s Closet/Buffalo Exchange/Plato’s Closet: Beacons Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and Plato’s Closet are separate chains with a similar model: a curated resale store. The stores will buy clothing from individuals and sort through them, ensuring that only hand-picked items end up on the racks. Many of the clothes are name-brand and in excellent condition. While the clothes are discounted, it is not as steeply discounted as classic thrift stores. Find a Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, or Plato’s Closet near you. 

Buy Nothing Facebook Groups: Open Facebook and search for your local Buy Nothing group. Buy Nothing groups are neighborhood-specific groups that encourage neighbors to give away items they don’t want before putting them on the curb. Because there is a group for every area, picking up an item that someone is giving away is usually a breeze and often close by. The best part is that Buy Nothing groups are a sharing and giving place — not a platform for selling — which means everything is free! 

Poshmark and ThredUp: Poshmark is an online resale platform where individuals can sell and ship clothing and some other goods. Similar to eBay, there are ratings and reviews on the sellers’ shops and Poshmark protects your purchases. thredUp is an “online consignment shop” that offers clothing and goods but without individual sellers. A perk of both stores is that you can search for specific brands or items at your convenience. Check out Poshmark and thredUp here.

ThriftBooks: ThriftbBoks is an online reseller (with some “new” options) of books, video games, CDs, and DVDs. The company buys books from libraries and schools that are cleaning out their stock, or from stores that need to liquidate. They also accept donations. ThriftBooks sorts books into different conditions — new, like new, very good, good, and acceptable — and prices them accordingly which gives their marketplace a sort of “sliding scale” approach. We love that ThriftBooks shares its profits with many libraries, and donates books worldwide to schools, non-profits, and communities recovering from natural disasters. Visit ThriftBooks here. 

Interested in refillery shops or ethically sourced brands? Email bl*****@br***********.com with any questions, or recommendations. Check back here for updated recommendations.


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Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil is the Editor of Bluedot Living Brooklyn, and the Managing Editor, Special Projects, for the Brooklyn Eagle. When she's not writing, you can either find her outside — in the rain, shine, snow, or cold — or inside baking bread. Find her on twitter @mkeil16.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. What about Big Reuse? They have a vast warehouse full of everything imaginable, from clothing and housewares to lumber and tools

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