ThredUP Review | Is It Worth It? - Public Goods

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ThredUP Review | Is It Worth It?

As I set my New Year’s resolutions for 2020, being low-waste was at the top of my list.

clothing on hangers, blue jeans, belt, pink shirt, brown jacket

Thankfully, my wardrobe has always been pretty minimal. I’m frugal about shopping and feel guilty about splurging on anything. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a major outfit repeater.

Because of this lifestyle, I’ve developed an emotional attachment to some of the clothing I own. I’ve even had some (thrifted!) pieces for over four years!

Nonetheless, I take really good care of what’s in my closet. I mean, why shouldn’t we?

When I did a deep dive into my closet at the start of 2020, I realized it was time to let some things go. I’ve sold items to thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange before, but I wanted to try a different approach. That’s when I came across the app, thredUP.

What Is thredUP?

Co-founded in 2009 by James Reinhart, thredUP is the largest online thrift store where you can sell and buy secondhand clothes. About 78 million items have been upcycled on thredUP since 2012. I was excited to learn that you can find over 35,000 brands featured on the thredUP marketplace.

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world (especially fast fashion retailers such as H&M, Zara, etc.). According to WBUR, about 60% of synthetic fabrics are made of fossil fuels, and thredUP estimates that we throw 26 billion pounds of clothing into landfills around the world every year.

Oh, and that T-shirt you own? It takes 700 gallons of water to produce.

There’s no doubt that upcycling clothing is great for your wallet and the planet. With online shopping being a huge source of convenience, what better way to buy secondhand than online?

How Does thredUP Work for Sellers?

First, I downloaded the thredUP app and made an account. You can also just use the thredUP website directly. Heads up that there’s a first time promotion of 50% off your first order.

After I made an account, I ordered a trade-in kit.

thredup smartphone app home page
Picture of the app home page

I received a checklist along with my trade-in bag. The checklist suggests what items are most likely to be accepted by thredUP and explains their quality standards.

thredup trade-in bag, white bag with green polka dots, shipping label
A picture of the ‘trade-in’ bag they sent to me.

For example, they only accept items:

  • with no signs of wear such as pilling, fading or shrinkage.
  • no damage, such as odor, rips, stains or missing parts (ie; zippers).
  • no missing tags, labels or alterations.

If your items are accepted, you can earn cash or credit. If your items aren’t accepted, they will be shipped back to you (for a small fee) or responsibly recycled.

You can also opt for a donation kit instead of a sell-in one. Instead of getting paid directly, thredUP will donate $5 to a charity of your choice!

Bonus: You’ll get a tax receipt for your contribution!

Here are some of the items I wanted to sell:

clothing, black top with cheetahs on wooden hanger, light blue top on wooden hanger
Left: An H&M black top with graphics of cheetahs. Right: A Calypso teal wrap shirt.

How Does thredUP Work for Buyers?

I wanted to buy a few pairs of secondhand shoes and a dress for a wedding. As a shopper, I used the website instead of the app, because I found it easier to navigate.

When most people think of secondhand, they think wear, tear, and maybe some unwanted scents. But thredUP isn’t all worn out items! You can choose what condition you’re looking for — new with tags, like-new, gently used or with signs of wear, if you really don’t care.

There are a ton of categories you can choose from including dresses, shoes, sweaters, coats, skirts, shorts, activewear, accessories and swimwear. You can also search by occasion, for example, cocktail, bridesmaids, wedding guests, work, vacation or casual. You can also search by specific styles, patterns and lengths. I found this to be a huge help in navigating what I was looking for!

Like many other online retailers, you can search by size, color, preferred price range, and material. While there are more specific categories on thredUP, it might be confusing to a customer who doesn’t really know what they’re looking for.

thredUP Review: Pros and Cons


  • A huge perk of being a firstime thredUP buyer is their first time discount. I was super thrilled that I got up to 50% off my first order!
  • You can also refer friends — give them $10 and you get $10 when they make their first purchase.
  • There is a huge inventory on their site. You can (sometimes) find multiples of one item, which is a bonus if you’re looking for a specific condition or size.


  • It took a long time for my items to be processed by thredUP. I sent them in a month and a half before they were evaluated.
  • On the buying side, you only have a few images (1-2) to look through and you can’t really zoom into items to see what they look like.
  • Beware: the site can be pretty slow.
  • If you are really ready to let some clothes go and don’t care about getting them back, send them off. But if you still think they have some value, be prepared to have them rejected, just in case.

Small Payout, But Still a Thumbs Up for threadUP

Once my bag was finally accepted, I was disappointed to see my final payout was only $4.41. thredUP ultimately only accepted half of my items (two shirts). It’s reassuring to know my clothes will get a second life, but I expected to use some of my payout to buy secondhand items on thredUP.

So what will happen to the items I sent in that won’t be sold? thredUP says their unaccepted items are sent to their textile recycling partners and repurposed into new, useful products. Again –– this is reassuring to me, nonetheless.

I don’t know how frequently I will send in items to be sold on thredUP in the future, but I will continue to browse their site when searching for secondhand items to buy! 56 million women bought secondhand products in 2018, compared to 44 million in 2017.

That’s progress! Think of how much more we could save through sharing our closets with one another.

Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.

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