As promised (for once) I am going to tackle the topic of acquiring used/trashed items. I put both the words in today’s title in quotes because sometimes “buy” means given/found/bartered. And sometimes “used” means “trashed.”
Now, I don’t go as far as freegans (and by that I mean that I don’t live solely by finding used items), but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with picking up something that someone else has thrown away. For example, the first sink that CF and were going to install (before we found a cheaper renovation option) was one that someone else put out for the garbage trucks to pick up. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that sink top. Someone just didn’t want it anymore.
Most of the time, however, I like to buy used items through craigslist or by shopping at thrift stores and places like Goodwill. My most recent awesome Goodwill finds have been some beautiful kitchen canisters and some “maternity” clothes for my good friend. (They weren’t technically “maternity” clothes, but they could work as such for her). Also, I found an awesome pair of blue jeans at Goodwill just last week. Jeans! I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I HATE shopping for pants, ESPECIALLY jeans. They never fit right. But these jeans fit like a dream, AND they were only $5.
I think with the economy tanking and the general fears about money in our national atmosphere over the past couple of years, buying used items is becoming more and more commonplace. But I’m sure that many of us have felt the all consuming NEED for something new, and the status symbol being able to buy NEW items can bring. After all, didn’t former president George W. once tell us that the best thing we could do for our country after 9-11 was to shop?
The problem is that this philosophy and culture of needing new items isn’t just hurting our wallets and bank accounts. It’s hurting the environment. When we buy new things and throw old things away, we’re only adding to the problem of our ever-bigger landfills. And that, dear readers, is really my number one reason for choosing to buy/find used/trashed items before buying new.
Right now, I am without a crockpot (that’s a story for another day…I killed our Crockpot Ron with my own stupidity and panicked actions), a functional back door for the trailer, a Dryer, and a toaster oven. Obviously, none of these things are a necessity or I wouldn’t have been able to go so long without them. But I am hesitating to replace them because I’d rather find something used. The prices to buy some of these items new aren’t so bad (the crockpot and toaster are totally do-able), but others are more pricey (the door is like $200!). So I’d like to both keep something out of a landfill and keep money in my wallet.
Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to give in when it comes to the back door. We’ve exhausted our search for used trailer parts in the area, and I think our property manager would like to see a new door here sooner rather than later. But hopefully, because I’ve been thrifting so many other things lately, we’ll be able to afford it.
How do you feel about “buying” “used”? Do you know much about how our cycle of consumption is hurting our world? If not, I highly recommend this 20 minute video about The Story of Stuff.
Until next time, may all your homes be happy and may all your shopping be thrifty!