Closing The Loop In Charitable Giving

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 Is Good For The Environment: A new item doesn't have to be made & you get lower cost & higher quality than a new cheaply-made item #TaylorMadeRanch

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.

Buying Used Is Good For The Environment: A new item doesn't have to be made & you get lower cost & higher quality than a new cheaply-made item #TaylorMadeRanch

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.

Buying Used Is Good For The Environment: A new item doesn't have to be made & you get lower cost & higher quality than a new cheaply-made item #TaylorMadeRanch

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.

Buying Used Is Good For The Environment: A new item doesn't have to be made & you get lower cost & higher quality than a new cheaply-made item #TaylorMadeRanch

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!

~TMR~

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66 thoughts on “Closing The Loop In Charitable Giving

  1. Simple Nature Decor

    I have found many of my decor pieces at the thrift store, in one of my recent posts, I mention I found a huge Russian Icon Oil Painting for $300, its suppose to be worth alot but i never bothered to get appraised. I just love the thing! Hope to see you at Fabulous Friday Party Maria

    Reply
  2. Christine | Where The Smiles Have Been

    I am a HUGE thrift store fan! It’s so fun to check them out and see what you can find….every trip is like Christmas because you never know what you’ll come across. We’re also big proponents of donating anything we can instead of throwing it away. One man’s treasure and all that….. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Merry Monday! We hope you’ll join us again this week!

    Reply
  3. Terri Presser

    I like purchasing from thrift stores or as well call them opportunity shops. It is good to get bargains and help a charity at the same time. I just (this morning) got my husband two pairs of pants and our youngest daughter a ski suit (for when she goes skiing) for under $10.00. This helps us as well as the charity and they can help others with their sales. I find that some people don’t like wearing second hand clothes but this has never been an issue with us. Thanks for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Second hand clothes have never been an issue with us either Terri and I love that it keeps perfectly usable goods out of the landfill. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  5. Elaine

    Great Post! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope to see you tomorrow!! Pinned!

    Reply
  6. Danielle

    Thrift stores and resale/ consignment stores are a great places to shop! Too often emphasis is placed on getting the newest and best of something. And while, I do enjoy shopping and getting new items, at the end of the day, jeans are jeans. 😉 Thanks for sharing at Idea Box.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I agree Danielle, thrift stores are a great place to shop. I’ve never been into shopping for the fun of it and I’ve never been one to think the new whatsit is better than the old whatsit (quite the opposite most of the time in my opinion). Thrift stores are a great way for me to obtain the items I need while still satisfying the environmental side of me, and that makes me smile… ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. JES

    We go to thrift stores for most of our needs also! All your points are excellent. I will also add that much of the time you are getting a better product because many items were made better years ago and with less plastic parts! Thank you for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I love your down to earth posts 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      YES, YES, YES! I often find better-made items for less money. And thanks for your sweet comment, JES. ~TMR~

      Reply
  8. Kristine Hart

    Love, love, love your article. Spot on- many people don’t get it. I worked at a residential housing for woman and we would get donations of used make-up (GROSS), shampoo and conditioner bottles not full. As staff, we were like “Really? These woman don’t have much right now and they are trying to better themselves. Giving used make-up to someone in need? To me that’s degrating. Like you said, trash is trash. Thank you so much for sharing this info. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I think the donor’s hearts were in the right place Kristine, just don’t think they thought it through. But yeah, trash is trash. ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. Lorey

    Great post! I am an avid Thrift Store shopper! And I know many of my well-to-do family members look down on it, even though they regularly donate themselves! I may just have to share this with them! Found you at A Little R & R Link Up!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I don’t understand someone looking down on thrift shopping unless they misunderstand the model in the first place. Those thrift stores they support with their donations only benefit when MONEY is exchanged for those items. Hopefully we can educate those that don’t truly understand… ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Us too! Although my primary drive is for environmental reasons it helps a lot that my purchase also helps that charity raise money AND those items I’ve purchased are always less expensive too. Trifecta Win! ~TMR~

      Reply
  10. Gwen

    We buy almost everything used, (except food!), be it from charity shops, ebay or other secondhand sources. I think there definitely is a stigma about it for some people, but now that we are used to it, it seems a huge extravagance to buy most things brand new!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Us too Gwen. I hate that there’s a stigma and I think it’s a misunderstood one. People falsely believe they’re “donating” to a charity so poor people can afford household goods. Although that’s certainly a benefit of thrift shopping, that charity needs your DOLLARS, which they can only obtain once that item is actually paid for. So we always try to shop at thrift stores first. ~TMR~

      Reply
  11. Gentle Joy

    There is much less stigma to such shopping than there used to be… the “in” thing at the moment is “re-purposing”, so that means using old or used stuff, so that has helped. 🙂 Still, I know people who NEED to save money, but refuse to shop used… and look down at such items. What a shame… I sure appreciate the blessings God provides and so much of them are in used items. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      A shame indeed. And as the post mentions, well-meaning people are willing to donate their usable goods to a charitable thrift store but until that charity receives MONEY for those goods they don’t see benefit. Trifecta: Charitable donation / environmentally friendly / less expensive – I’d call that a win. ~TMR~

      Reply
  12. Judi Bigham

    The thing I find amazing, is that most of the people who wouldn’t shop at thrift stores, don’t think twice about shopping at antique stores. To me, that’s just high priced second hands stuff. I prefer finding a thrift store or the old junk store. I’ve found some really neat stuff at “junk stores”.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Garage sales, antique stores, thrift stores – they all take items no longer being used by one person & offer them for sale to another person who can use them. A budgetary & environmental win! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  14. Nichole @ Budget Loving Military Wife

    We moved to England 5 months ago from Washington state. They call them “Charity Shops” here in the U.K. and the stigma is very different. People view shopping at charity shops a very good thing because you are supporting a cause. Many of the shops are named for the cause they support “cancer research association” “Heart Association” “Hospice care”, etc.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I love that Nichole. I’ve visited a few local thrift stores that were named for the cause they support as well. I love that England has shopping for a good cause figured out, hopefully more & more areas will follow suit. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  16. Stef

    Great article. My husband and I have a favorite, church-run thrift shop where can pass on things that are still in excellent shape but are looking for something different . We’ve found some great things there and are always happy to trade them our money before paying a chain store for something less interesting and more expensive. I’ve never thought of it as closing the loop, but that’s exactly how to describe it. And that makes me even happier!

    Reply
  17. Mary

    Great post, I love it! Thanks for sharing with us over at the Homeacre Hop! Please join us again soon! We’ll be taking next week off for Christmas. Merry Christmas! Mary 🙂 http://www.homegrownonthehill.blogspot.com

    Reply
  18. Beth

    I wish we had true thrift stores near us here. Mostly they are the “chain” (GW, SA) stores where the prices of used clothing matches what i can buy for new at Wal-Mart or on sale at Target. I never feel like I am getting a good deal or really helping anyone out when I shop there. I miss the shops run by the churches where we lived in OK City that really gave back to the community, used mostly volunteers to run them for lower overhead, and had buck-a-bag day sales.

    Reply
  19. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    LOVE this post!!! Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. YOU have been featured this morning. Come on over and share what you’ve been working on.

    Reply
  20. Sara

    I love thrift stores! I don’t like to pay retail for anything! I have found some really nice things at thrift stores, including clothes with tags still on them!!

    Reply
  21. Linda @ A La Carte

    I think the shopping at Thrift Stores is becoming more acceptable for sure. I’ve done it for years and will buy most anything there (except underclothes LOL). I have gifted friends with items they LOVE and let them know it came from a thrift store and they got a gift they love, I got a great gift at a price I could afford and the money went to help others (I’m picky about my thrift stores also). Great post! Thanks for sharing with us at TTF who are the believers!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Good point Linda. The stigma of thrift store shopping has been removed as knowledge of the purpose of thrift stores are made more widely known – thrift stores are raising money for those causes and using our donated goods to do so. By shopping at those stores we are closing the loop – the money is raised with our purchase! The donations themselves are not of any lesser quality than could be purchased at consignment stores or second-hand retail shops and money made from thrift store shopping goes to those in need. Goods donated from people just like you & me help those thrift stores raise money for those good causes we donated to in the first place! ~TMR~

      Reply
  22. Anna@stuffedveggies

    I LOVE the thrift stores, too! To keep my frugality in perspective, I try to look at my purchases there as “rentals” to be returned when I’m done with them – if they’re still good enough to re-sell. This way, I can think “I’m using this slow cooker I bought for $2.99 – it costs me $1 a year to use!” Then, if I don’t need something anymore, I can just take it right back to the “rental” place – no clutter needed (not that I DON’T clutter – I just don’t feel I HAVE to keep things because they’re “still good.”) Yesterday, I got a really nice, new looking sewing machine for $14.99 : )

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    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I try to have the same mindset Anna – no clutter! I’ll admit m secretly jealous of your $14.99 sewing machine! LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  23. Lisa Lynn

    When I need ‘new’ clothes, that’s where I head…Usually the Salvation Army. I like supporting them and saving money at the same time! Thanks for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!

    Reply
  24. Angi@schneiderpeeps.com

    Great reminders. We almost all of our shopping in thrift stores. I like that I’m helping to keep things out of the landfill but also that my purchase doesn’t trigger a need for companies to produce more. I

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Oh Angie – me too! The lower price is nice, the helping a charity is very nice, but the driving force behind me first shopping thrift stores is for environmental reasons just as you stated. ~TMR~

      Reply
  25. Jenny

    Thrifting is a skill I’m wanting to learn. We don’t have many in our area, but there are a few stores in the large city where I shop. I’d like to learn which ones have the best selection and when. I do though love to shop consignment stores, and we have a great used book store where I could spend hours. I agree it is better to find things used and spend less. Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop! Look forward to having you back tomorrow: blackfoxhomestead.com/the-homeacre-hop/

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      We don’t have any thrift stores in our tiny town either, but there are several in the larger surrounding towns and of course on occasions when we’re in Dallas (relatively often) there are several to chose from. I keep a thrift-store list on my iPhone and keep it updated so I know what items I’m scouting for. What in the world did we do before iPhones? LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  26. Hannah

    So glad you posted this! The SALE is what completes the giving! Thanks for sharing with us last week at at Eco-Kids Tuesday!!! Hope you stop by again today!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Hannah – some people really don’t think about closing the loop in their charitable giving, so hopefully this post will remind them they can go a step further effortlessly in supporting causes they care about. ~TMR~

      Reply
  27. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes

    I love thrift store finds! I have found some of the best stuff there! We can’t wait to see what you share at tomorrow’sAll My Bloggy Friends!

    Reply
  28. Mary@Back to the Basics!

    I love thrift stores. Some call them “charity shops” here and they’re fantastic! Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist at Back to the Basics. Hope to see you again tomorrow! back2basichealth.blogspot.com/search/label/Tuesdays%20with%20a%20Twist

    Reply
  29. Regula Bartholdi

    I love going to the thrift store and seldom buy new things. Why should I? After a while all new things are used anyway. When things break in the school kitchen I buy them in the thrift store too. Why buy them new if they break again, sometimes in no time? Most of my clothes are from the thrift store. I don’t tell people. 😉

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Regula, I agree about buying used items – and if your purchase helps further a good cause, all the better! ~TMR~

      Reply
  30. Cheryl L. Stansberry

    We pretty much do all our clothes shopping at thrift stores. The only things I absolutely refuse to by used are socks and underwear! (especially underwear) My kids love going (of course they run straight to the toy section) and get excited when I pick out new (used) clothes for them. I think it helps also that we homeschool and I know it will be less of a temptation to get caught up in the need to look and dress like everyone else. My mom and sisters love thrift store shopping and it seems everyone I know loves going too.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Cheryl, socks & underwear are pretty much the only things I buy new as well. I’ve gotten many compliments on some of the clothes I’ve purchased at thrift stores. ~TMR~

      Reply
  31. Linda @ A La Carte

    I seldom buy ‘new’ anymore. I buy most of my clothes and household items from thrift stores and yard sales. Gifts also! Most of my friends and family know that I do that and support it since I find awesome things that I couldn’t afford new. I donate also and complete the circle! Thanks for joining TTG! Linda

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Us too Linda – we seldom buy new. I also often by parts of gifts at thrift stores, such as dishes, baskets or containers for the gift, etc. It’s all about closing the loop, it matters to me! Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
  32. Janis@TheMagicThatIsThrift

    As a result of my passion for buying from thrift stores, I have “converted” non-believer friends into thrift store shoppers. Sometimes people can’t get past the “vintage” associated with thrift stores and they miss out on great, “modern” items that would easily fit their current lifestyle. All we can do is keep spreading the word about The Magic That Is Thrift. Great post!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’ve made some converts from non-believer friends as well Janis, although I’ve run more into the erroneous mindset that items in a thrift store were earmarked to go only to underprivileged people. Once they realize that their goods weren’t helping the organizations, that it was the CASH that helped, they head their “DUH” moment and never looked back. ~TMR~

      Reply
  33. christine

    I don’t do a ton of shopping at thrift stores, mostly because I don’t do much shopping, period. I have shopped there, and I donate there at least once a month. I had no idea people thought the stores were for needy folks to shop. Just about everyone I know has shopped in thrift stores, and none of them are needy. TALU

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Yep Christine, like you we don’t do lots of shopping either but when we do it’s usually a thrift store that gets our first consideration. For me it’s primarily an environmental choice, then a charitable cause choice. The financial aspect of it is one of the last reasons for my consideration but it’s a nice side effect. I was pretty surprised when I heard this person was under the impression these goods were meant for the underprivileged as like you I know many people who shop in thrift stores and none of them were needy. I figured it might be a good idea to raise awareness of the funding mechanism for charities if there’s that kind of misunderstanding out there. ~TMR~

      Reply
  34. Amber

    I’m an avid thrifter, but this article makes an excellent point! Thank you for sharing at the Give Me the Goods Link Party!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks Amber, hopefully we can get the word out there and help lots of great organizations with their funding. ~TMR~

      Reply
  35. Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    I love both donating to AND shopping at all eight of our local thrift stores. I love it so much I started volunteering in the book section at one. Thanks for sharing the joys of thrift store shopping! I ‘d like to add one suggestion. When you gather your own items to donate, if you can’t close your eyes and imagine it for sale in the store, then perhaps the item has lived a full life and should be discarded. As a volunteer I’m amazed at the amount of trash, really trash, that gets dropped off for donation. A chipped drinking glass should be thrown away. A shirt with a huge stain should be thrown away. A twenty year old college textbook should be thrown away. Or if you have a facility capable of recycling these in your community, take those items there.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Joan, that’s a very good reminder. I think sometimes when wondering what to donate the thought process is “well, maybe SOMEONE could use it”. While this may be true in some circumstances if the item is in usable shape and sell-able, broken items can’t be used by anyone and certainly aren’t worthy of being sold in a store, thrift or otherwise. Thanks for pointing that out! ~TMR~

      Reply
  36. Heather

    I absolutely love thrift stores! I tend to check there first for most things, especially clothes for the kids. I think there has been a stigma associated with shopping places like Goodwill for a while, but it seems like we might be turning the corner. Realizing that a lot of people get rid of perfectly good “stuff” that we may need. My problem is keeping a list of what I need, so I don’t go in and buy a bunch of stuff I don’t just because it is cheap 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Heather, I’ve had someone question whether I should shopping be at thrift stores because doesn’t that mean I’m taking things meant to go to the needy. I think there’s just a huge misunderstanding about the whole process, how thrift stores work and how some of those wonderful organizations are actually funded. I’m hoping today’s post explains it more clearly. 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  37. Robin

    I love going to the thrift stores! It has become a Saturday routine for my husband & I. In the summer we search for yard sales, then hit the thrift stores and in the winter we just go to the thrift stores. I have found numerous items that I would not have purchased new. I also donate items to them.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Me too Robin! We love to garage sale as well, but thrift stores are not so seasonal. Glad you enjoy them too! ~TMR~

      Reply

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