When I was buying things, I almost always bought used.
Having started this blog, I’ve had many conversations with people about consumerism and the ways we choose to spend our dollars. Turns out, most of the people I know buy used, particularly when it comes to kids’ clothing. Fantastic.
Buying used is easy. And, it’s fun.
In 2011, I decided to stop buying new clothes, not just for my kids (as I always did), but for me as well. I’ve cheated a couple times, but mostly I’ve been rockin’ your grand dad’s clothes and lookin’ incredible (in this coat from that thrift shop down the road).
The benefits of buying used clothes are many:
- You save money.
- You save things from going to the dump.
- Often, you support a charity.
- You get to create your own style (rather than having GAP do it for you.)
- You can get better quality clothing without spending a fortune, and often, it lasts longer.
- You have less negative environmental and social impact.
And #6 is a HUGE one.
As part of a school project for my degree, I researched the true cost (environmental and social) of a pair of jeans. It changed my life. You can read about my findings here.
You might be wondering, why is The Fasting Consumer not simply buying used instead of not buying at all? After all, one of my number one mandates is to cut-back on the environmental and social impact of consumerism, and buying used does a good job of this.
But, I wanted to take it a step further, or, rather, a step back.
We’ve got three R’s we’re going to talk about today
We’ve got to learn to
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle …
(Thank you, Jack Johhnson.)
Reduce comes first. I already had a pretty good handle on the reuse and recycle part (with room for improvement, of course), but I wanted to take a good look at reduce. Used stuff is great, but if it turns out I don’t need the stuff in the first place, all the better.
In the past two months, I’ve enjoyed seeing stuff leave my house without seeing new stuff come in. Net loss = success. (My house is on a diet. See Excess Fat Stores.) So far, no less than six large garbage bags and two boxes have been donated, gifted, or consigned. Admittedly, much of that was clothing my kids have outgrown, but a lot of it was just stuff–stuff I didn’t really need, or really love, or really have a use for.
I’m one of those people who attaches a lot of emotion to stuff. Who gave it to me? When? What memories are associated with it? What feelings will be hurt? Seriously, I “feel bad” for the redundant kitchen pot or the pill-y old sweater. How “sad” they must be that I no longer have a use for them … The Velveteen Rabbit was traumatic to my childhood.
But, I’m getting better! Simply realising that I have this issue is liberating. No wonder I want less stuff–the less stuff, the less emotional stress.
The other day my daughter wanted to give away a bunch of her kiddie jewellery. At first, I found myself wanting to object. I justified my own inability to let go by thinking that, later, my daughter will have regrets and that I should protect her from that. How silly!
“I have too much, Mommy, and I don’t really wear these,” she said. Fair enough. And welcome to the anti-stuff club, Sweetie! (Though, I think of the two of us, she was probably there first.)
So, is buying used good? Yes, it’s great. And to all those who buy used, whatever the reason, rock-on. In 2015, I will rejoin you.
But for now, this Thrift Store Junkie, is taking a break. My 3 Rs are:
Reduce, Relax, Rejoice.