Alternatives to Buying New
One way to avoid bringing so much waste into your home is to buy fewer things new. Used items have generally already had all the packaging (waste) removed. Not to mention that by buying used, you are preventing one more item from being tossed in the landfill, and that’s one fewer item that will need to be replaced on the store shelves with a fresh one from the factory.
So where does one go to get used items? This might seem like the most obvious list ever, but here goes:
- Garage Sales. Garage sales CAN be tough, because they’re kind of a crap shoot and you could end up wasting a lot of gas. When we decide to hit garage sales, I like to make a list of the ones that sound promising, then mapquest them all. I then select just one area of town to visit, and plot out the most efficient route. We also, of course, visit all garage sales within walking distance.
- Consignment stores. We’ve found Once Upon A Child to be a great source for clothes for Wally when we don’t have what we need in the box of previously-purchased clothing. I usually buy ahead at garage sales and end of season clearance, so the clothes at Once Upon A Child are actually more expensive that we usually buy, but they are nice, and if he needs, say, a black shirt for some particular reason, it’s a good place to go. Consignment stores are also good places to buy good-quality used toys with a minimum of packaging.
- Half Price Books. They are pretty stingy on what they pay you for books you bring in, but getting something is still better than getting nothing, and you can buy used books for cheap.
- Half.com, Ebay, and other auction and used-items stores online. Half.com has been a standby for me for years. The packaging is usually pretty minimal, and almost always previously used, since the items are being shipped by regular people, not stores.
- Swap websites like Paperback Swap.
- Freecycle, ReUseIt, CraigsList, etc.
- Looking for things for your home? Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, as well as local architectural salvage stores (such as West End Architectural Salvage and Found Things), are good spots to try.
- And, don’t forget that family and friends can be great resources for getting used items. We picked up a nice pasta machine from my sister in law a few years back. She wasn’t using it, and I really really wanted it!