I recently succumbed to the urge to shop. It’s true – despite being an environmentalist, I still do enjoy being a consumer from time to time! This time, I was shopping for clothes for my infant daughter. She needed (and I wanted) pj’s, tops, pants, and a new toy or two! In order to keep this shopping trip affordable, I headed to “Once Upon a Child”, one of our favourite second hand and consignment shops. I picked up 3 pairs of pj’s, 4 tops, 2 dresses, a jacket, pants, a musical activity centre, and a snuggle bag for her stroller – all for less than $100! The frugalista in me rejoiced.
And so did the environmentalist! Second hand shopping is an effective, and fun, way of reducing your impact on the environment. A friend of mine once reasoned that she would only buy second hand furniture because “there’s enough ‘stuff’ out there for everyone already – why make more”? This is a great perspective, and one I’ve tried to embrace. When our daughter was born, I took advantage of the abundance of high quality baby gear available second hand, instead of adding to the demand for the production of new items.
If you aren’t already a seasoned second hand shopper, here are a few tips (based solely on my experience, I profess no particular expertise). Furniture is a great place to start, especially if you have a (unfounded) mental block against cooties. It’s easy to clean and is often in good condition. I also buy clothes (especially baby!) second hand, though I wash in hot water as soon as I get them home – you should also run them through the dryer, which I can’t do because I don’t own one! (more on that in a future post…). Toys, books, bikes, camping gear… I’ve bought of all these second hand, and saved a bundle. The only thing I avoid is bedding, to avoid bed bugs (I live in a big city, where bed bugs are often a problem).
As for where to buy: even if you’re a newbie, you’re probably familiar with the old standby websites like CraigsList, Kijiji, and FreeCycle. If you haven’t already, start checking out the second hand stores in your neighbourhood – big names like Value Village, as well as smaller consignment shops, can have great deals. Lastly, don’t forget to use word of mouth – let your friends and family know that you’re open to receiving/buying/trading second hand goods – I scored a great dresser this way!
In short, today’s green tip? Go shopping!