One of the great mysteries of life is…How many THINGS do we need?
The act of buying new items to wear, to furnish your house, to buy toys or just to get something different, has always been an interesting phenomena for me to watch. The full range of economic classes from the ultra rich to those below the poverty line seem to do well in accumulating things.
Americans are the Kings and Queens of Consumers
Stores love our buying power, commerce thrives! American holidays seem to be based around huge sales at the big box stores! Manufacturers seek out new ideas and products to feed our purchasing appetites. Black Fridays and Black Mondays follow most holidays and are rated against each other! Which Holiday generated the most spending!
“Buy American” comes to mind here. Unfortunately many companies look at the bottom line…Where can I get this product manufactured the cheapest?…it usually is “not in America”. So they are faced with the dilemma of “we’ll buy it from somewhere outside the U.S.” because the raw materials and the labor are cheaper…therefore we can get the product to the consumer faster and for less money and make more profit.
The main problem is and has been for quite a while…is we ignore how Companies get their raw materials. Where their product is made and why we can buy it so cheaply. We can usually justify that it’s of inferior quality based on it’s price. Some things you just say “This is so cheap if it breaks, I’ll just get another one”! I’m guilty of that. But if you care about the worlds finite resources…It does create a dilemma.
So why are renewable/reuseable resources better?
It’s obvious…we can produce more of it and we can use it longer!
This also applies to repurposing and recycling. They all kind of add up to the same idea. Taking an existing product and using it for another purpose, using it again and again or crushing it up and forming it into another product! This is all done without “mining” or discovering a new source of the basic ingredient.
The Universal Way to Renew, Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose for Most Consumers is to donate or purchase something at a Thrift Store!
I have been volunteering at a Thrift Store for over 4 years. I pick up and deliver large items to the store or to peoples homes. The Humane Society of Central Arizona has found that this store is one of the great funding mechanisms it has. Not only that, it gets incredible stuff donated and people come from all over to shop there. From nearly new furniture, used appliances, gently used clothing to antiques of every form and shape, you can find it at a thrift store.
One pickup I made out of town was for a used record player. Bob R. and I went to pick it up and grumbled all the way as it was 10 miles away and we hoped it was something that could be resold! When we got there, an older woman showed us her 1920s record player that was in a beautiful inlaid wooden cabinet. This antique was pristine and not only that it still worked and had extra “tubes” to run it.
Another thing that I’ve discovered is that the solid wood furniture circa the 1950’s to the 1970’s are still in pretty good shape. They are not made of particle board as so many of the imported pieces of furniture are. Guess what? Most of them are made in the U.S.!
Check out the Thrift Store brochure that lists all of the stores in our town. Do you know where yours are?
Don’t Listen to this Video if you don’t like Rap and Swearing!
I’m not into Rap Music, but in my searching around the net I found this song about thrift stores. It’s interesting to say the least. If you don’t like hearing the F-Bomb, please skip it!
So Whats the Bottom Line?
The concept is that, we don’t necessarily need to purchase new items all the time. There are stores out there that can provide you a gently used product that you need. Yes it may be used, but at a quarter of the cost it may be better constructed and have years of life left.
Globally, the purchase of recycled, reuseable, repurposed items can in a small way reduce the amount of non-remewable resources that must be mined from an already damaged ecosystem in a third world nation.
One more “R” to Consider
My Neighbor Dean G. is always telling me there is one more “R” besides renewable, recycle, reuse, and repurpose…and that is RETHINK! Think about whether you need it or not to begin with, if so, go ahead and see if you can find it at a thrift store first. Every time you purchase something at a Non-Profit thrift store you are helping that Non-Profit and the Charity/Organization it supports survive!