This Old Thing? Sustainability in Consumerism

Recycling is not a new concept and doesn’t just apply to aluminum cans, plastic, cardboard and newspaper. Re-use of an item until it is worn out or for another purpose has been around since the dawn of man. It was a way of life for many until our capitalistic society decreed that things should be made to wear or break down and be replaced frequently. Same with advertising bombarding us with the need of the latest, greatest, shiniest, newest version of…… Guess what? We don’t.

Estate Sales, Yard or Garage Sales as well as Thrift stores and resale shops, both non-profit and for, are great places to save money and keep our landfills clear of clothing, household appliances, furniture and more. My place is 90% furnished by thrift. 100% of my shirts, tees, shorts and jeans are thrift. Except for groceries and electronics, I don’t shop in regular stores. No need or desire.

I was a thrifter of years in Polk County and now into my second year volunteering here in the desert for a three-store chain called Revivals, which benefits the clients of the Desert AIDS Project. I’m glad to see the “use it till gone” attitude with our donations – Items deemed stained or damaged for floor are sent to our “Bargin Warehouse” at greatly reduced prices Electronics are gathered and delivered to special recycling centers. Frayed towels and blankets are sent to the local animal shelter for bedding. And books are either sent to a local college for their book sales, or put in the recycling dumpster to begin life as something else.

Basic rule, location determines quantity, quality and rotation of inventory. So each area has different things. Where I live is a lot of wealthy retirees and snowbirds so the selection is varied and high-end name brand. Larger metropolitan areas will have more than rural. Most cities and towns have Goodwill and/or Salvation Army, some churches and hospitals are opening their own small shops and there are Mom & Pops under various names. And it’s not just for items inside the house, but even the supplies to build the houses with Habitat for Humanity stores. Don’t know of a place? Call around and ask. Worst answer you’ll get is “Nope.”

My suggestions?

Build a list of stores and needs and as you set out, keep an open mind and eye.

Clothes can be altered – dyed, sleeves cut off, necklines changed or hems raised. And in the case of jeans and some tees ripped even more.

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Photograph by Eric Woodard

furniture can be repainted, refinished and repurposed into another life.

Art can be salvaged for either the painting or the frame and glass.

Dishes, glasses and other pottery doesn’t necessarily have to match…or be used just on the dinner table.

Neither do linens, towels and such – but do have one set that does for when company comes. They also make rags, dropclothes and such.

Real books, many times only months old added to a personal library or passed along to another. Senior Centers can’t get enough LARGE PRINT editions. Call and ask.

And sometimes, just sometimes, a treasure escapes everyone’s eyes but yours. SCORE!

Most important – DONATE. Go through your house and empty out what you don’t need. Do it frequently. Aside from good Karma you make more space for your new things to re-use.

Eric Woodard

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Photograph by Eric Woodard
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