We are the ultimate thrifters.  We live for garage sales, re-use yards, thrift stores, etc.  My husband more so than me (for some things).   I am always looking for fabric, yarn, books, pretty much anything that catches my eye. 

I recommend, to anyone who may not do much or any thrift store shopping, to give it a try.  It definitely takes patience and an open mind- but you can find so many treasures.  Plus you are reusing something that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill and then another new item would have been made (also the money usually goes to good charities- i.e. salvation army, goodwill industries, local non-profits, etc.).  I just love to give something a new life. 

 

What may have once been a window can now be a picture frame, or an old wine barrel can become a table or candle holder.

 

I wish I had more time to spend on making “trash to treasure”.

We are normally not into buying the big plastic “stuff” for the kids, but….. Doug found all the items in our backyard either at the re-use yard at the county garbage station, by talking to someone who had it in their truck on their way to the dump, or craigslist.  We call it Ryder-vegas.  It’s his (and now Saige’s) own private playground.  This is when thrifting is best, for kids items.  I love having books and the thrift stores or library sales are the best for used books.  You can get them for under $1.  Clothes are also great to get second hand, kids wear something once and then they grow out of it- or play with it a couple times and then their parents give it away.  You do have to be cautious with watching for recalls on bigger items such as carseats, strollers, etc. since you wouldn’t have registered the item yourself and with safety- some people have different levels of tolerance when it comes to used car seats, cribs, etc.  But otherwise it is so much fun to make that “score” and come home with a treasure.  Ryder even gets into it and it teaches him the value of re-use. 

Everyone knows the universal symbol for recycling but I think most forget that the wording attached to it is REDUCE, RE-USE, recycle.  By re-using you are reducing the amount of goods being produced, reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and the amount of natural resources being depleted to make those items.  And I’m about to sound like my grandparents but… “they don’t make ’em like they used to”.  I look at the quality of the wooden toys I had (which my mother saved) and it’s far superior to today’s products.

I went to hear Julia “Butterfly” Hill speak (about 9 years ago) and something she said stuck with me (actually a lot of what she said stuck- but here’s one point).  She challenged herself to carry around a bag full of all of her “garbage” she generated in a day (it may have been a week- but regardless she had to carry around her garbage) and it really made it hit home just how much waste one person generates.  After hearing her made me think about the amount of waste I generate (and at that time I was already mindful – or so I thought- about how to conserve and be conscious) so I started to add that theory to my everyday thinking.  Instead of buying bottled water (which I’ve never been into- why should I pay for water) buy a bottle for water and bring it from your tap at home (which is more regulated and cleaner than the water that is purchased), use a hankie (I know some people probably think it’s gross -at one time I did too) but think about all the tissue you go through in a day when you are sick- go out and buy a bunch of hankies/bandannas and use a couple throughout the day- then you just wash and reuse.  Plus you can buy a bunch of cute colored ones or pretty old ones (from garage sales, estate sales, etc.) . Use cloth napkins- pack one in your lunch bag instead of using paper napkins, bring you own utensils with you for lunch instead of plastic utensils and bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop.  Most coffee shops even knock off a couple cents for bringing your own.  These are all just little things you can do to minimize your impact on the earth.  Of course your not always going to be able to bring your own utensils- but even if you just start doing it occasionally – every little bit counts. 

For those of you just venturing into the world of re-use you can even start at a consignment store- the store kind of does the work for you- they weed through the items and decide what is worth selling- it’s a bit more costly and not much “hunt” involved- but still a good thing to do.

So, try it out some time, you just may like it (and you are keeping that item from ending up in a landfill).

This we know: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
Chief Seattle