by Tammy Taylor
Several years ago we began to be aware of our environmental footprint and took several steps to reduce that footprint. (aaahhh – I said STEPS – see what I did there?) First we took a good hard look at the overabundance we already had and stopped ‘boredom shopping’ for yet more stuff to overfill our home. That was a pretty big step. We also took a look at the stuff we typically purchased in the store and I learned how to make some of those items for myself. I learned to make spice mixes and amazing homemade brownies. I learned to make low-fat yogurt and pasta. I even learned how to make cold-compressed soap. Learning those things has been a fun hobby for me but today I want to talk about something that can make a larger impact: buying used instead of new. It’s good for your finances and good for the environment, yet it’s oftentimes very misunderstood.
Buying used items instead of new has several advantages: A new whatsit doesn’t have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped for your purchase, the cost is usually less, and oftentimes you can buy higher quality for the same or less money than the flimsier items. Add to that the benefit of helping a good cause and you’ve really got a winner! We donate to charitable thrift stores every chance we get, it removes extra “Stuff” from our home and allows someone else to enjoy those things that we no longer use. The best part of this of course is that the money made from the thrift shop’s sale of our goods furthers a good cause. But there’s a stigma here that I feel I must address.
Many well-meaning people think that since thrift store goods are “donated to charity” that those goods are earmarked to go to the underprivileged, and I think in some cases that may be true. But for most charities that have a thrift store your household donations don’t do the organization you’re trying to support any good – it’s the SALE of those items and the money made from that donation that funds the organization. Shopping at those thrift stores closes the charitable-giving loop. I feel good about buying clothes and household goods at charitable thrift stores so I close the loop by buying there whenever possible. Of course there are certain things that for me are only purchased new but that list is actually pretty small. I’ve purchased clothes and bake ware, electronics and garden supplies at thrift stores.
And when I asked my Honey to build me a large mirror framed with wood from our 1880’s barn, I knew I would not be purchasing the actual mirror part new. The mirror came from a charitable thrift store at a very reasonable price, our money went to help an organization that I believe in, and my mirror turned out to be a beautiful and meaningful addition to our home.
What about you? Have you noticed a lack of understanding from friends and family about shopping at thrift stores? Let’s get the word out and help some great causes!