Secondhand Sustainability


I mentioned my air conditioner search to a few people while I was in the midst of hunting one down. Whenever I brought up that I was looking on craigslist I could literally see people taken aback by it. “Why would someone be getting rid of an air conditioner?” was a frequent question I’d hear, I guess because one wouldn’t get rid of something unless it was broken. I could see by the look in their eyes that they thought I was crazy.

People seem to have a real issue with the idea of buying things 2nd hand. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with it. Maybe it stems back to my childhood when I was about 6/7 years old and I use to enjoy following the garbage men around my neighborhood. They thought it was pretty cute and allowed me to go a short distance with them (back in the days when you could actually trust people and let kids run wild!) and one day one of them handed me a stuffed toy frog that someone had thrown away. I thought it was pretty sweet, a real treasure! I’m pretty sure a lot of who I am now can be traced back to those lovely days in Patucah, KY. I also cultivated a deep respect and love for nature there when someone explained to me that you can make a drink from the roots of a sassafras tree…but I digress…

So, why do people get rid of a/c’s?! Here are a few reasons: 1.) college students that are moving out of dorms or apartments for the summer 2.) People moving in general 3.) People get central air installed 4.) they are upgrading or maybe even downgrading. These are the reasons I’ve found. I mean, basically people are getting rid of almost brand new units and sometimes they are asking for less than half the price of a new unit.

Why am I buying from craigslist? Because I’ve had pretty good success so far, because of my budget, and because I don’t want to buy new things. I don’t think it’s necessary to buy new things. Buying secondhand items like A/C’s, furniture, and clothes helps to keep these items out of landfills. If you haven’t yet seen it I highly recommend you watch the Story of Stuff.

While I tend to use craigslist for furniture I try to buy my clothes from thrift stores. I use to thrift like crazy when I was younger but now I only tend to go every once in a while. I’ve just tried to simplify my wardrobe so I don’t want to have the clutter of clothes everywhere. Also, I had a pretty bad moth problem in the past that helped me to purge stuff so I only want to have what I’m actually going to wear and don’t want to keep clothes that I wear once in a great while stuffed in a closet. Lately, I’ve had some great luck at thrift stores (after years of hardly ever finding anything) so I’ve been really happy with my finds. I love that I can get a number of pieces from the price of 1 new thing. I’ve been able to stock up on dresses, which I can wear year round. If you’re patient you can find some nice unique/designer pieces for such great prices. However, I tend to buy new stuff for my daughter just because it’s been difficult to find good kids clothing at thrift stores (i.e not stained or looking too worn). If I see something good I buy it for her but it’s really difficult to keep up with kids because of all the growing and tearing that happens. She goes through pants like crazy because she tends crawl around on the ground or she might have a big fall, etc.

So, if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it! I’ll leave by sharing a fond memory I have of my father. We weren’t rich growing up but we were comfortable. I did not inherit my secondhand abilities from my parents, but I did pass them on to my father. I dragged my dad to a thrift store one day when I was visiting home in my 20’s. We were in Pittsburgh and there were some good stores that I liked to check out whenever I was there. My dad wasn’t thrilled at first but it didn’t take long before I saw a little gleam in his eye as he found some things that were of interest to him and he couldn’t believe the prices. After that one trip he actually enjoyed going thrifting with me.

Posted on: June 17th, 2014 by Gette

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