Shopping to save the planet…

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!

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