Friday, February 25, 2011

Thrifting- The Goods on Goodwill

There are countless blogs dedicated to thrifting. I was amazed how much time people spend on this activity. Some even make it into a business. Good for them. I am a whole lot less intense when it comes to thrifting. 

I love the prefix re.  I believe recycling can be a spiritual practice (More on that in another post...maybe) . I also love to reuse, re-purpose, redistribute (either by giving away ill fitting clothes or shopping at thrift stores).

I teach my children that everything we do has an impact on our planet. When they start clamoring for some new "it" thing that they have seen their friends with, I use the opportunity to discuss where it came from and where it will end up. 

This is where I will plug The Story of Stuff. Awesome video. The kids really got it. 

The question that comes first is "How do you think it was made; what resources were used in order to produce it?" After discussing that we move on to how much use we can get out of it. "Will it break easily? How long do you think it will hold your interest?" Sometimes these questions lead to them realizing that they don't really want it. Sometimes they still have to have it. At that point we try to figure out if we can get it second hand. The idea that they could "rescue" such an awesome toy from the landfill is really exciting to younger kids. My oldest is 11 and I have different approach with him. He is really into being thrifty. He knows that getting the same item for less is a good thing.

My youngest loves to go to Goodwill with me. Its a giant scavenger hunt. It takes time and attention, so I usually only bring one child each oldest trip.
We have several Goodwill stores in our area and each of them are resources for different types of items. Need kids stuff? The one in the neighborhood full of kids is the place to go. Need a nice dress for a party or dinner? The one near the affluent neighborhood is the place to look. I know it sounds morbid, but if you need dishes or home goods, a Goodwill near an aging neighborhood will have what you need. Sometimes when loved ones pass it is easier to take what no family members have a desire to keep to Goodwill. If you have several thrift stores in your area, get a sitter for the day (pull a favor, it will be worth it) and scope them all out. DO NOT BRING MONEY OR CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS on this trip. It is recon only.

I keep a list. I have a well defined sense of need versus want. Unless there is imminent peril involved, it is probably a want. You may NEED a tourniquet, but you want a warmer winter coat. Wants can wait until the perfect item is available and the budget can handle it. 

When planning a trip to Goodwill I pull out my list and figure out what is the most pressing want. Sometimes it's time for a new set of snowpants,or a sweater gets on the list because the one I pulled out to wear needs to be repurposed into socks/scarf/hat. Based on the category those pressing needs fall into I figure out which store to go to. The list is then finalized and budgeted for. I take only enough money to cover what I need to purchase that trip. 

It is easy to go overboard with thrifting. I have to work to not buy things. Sticking to the list is a constant struggle, but I am trying to save money and teach my children about reasonable consumption. One time I almost purchased a complete set of Christmas china that was only $7 that even included the matching butter dish! I don't need china...I have three kids! It was a great bargain, just not for me. Impulse buying is a risk if you don't prepare for the trip.If there is something at the store I am visiting and it is not on my list, I don't get it. It will wait there on the shelf for someone who wants/needs it. I may have a use for it sometime off in the future, but not that one. That deal is for someone else. This is how I keep the clutter out of my life.
Yes, Goodwill shopping is good for the budget, but it is good for our earth too. Buying something that is already produced/packaged/shipped/purchased/profited from keeps one less from being produced/packaged/shipped/purchased/profited from just for you. If we don't demand as much of it, the companies are not going to use the resources to supply as much of it. For this to work, everyone must change their attitude towards consumption. 

Thrifting can save so much if you have imagination. I purchase dishes, cookware, and even my coats at Goodwill. I also get other wonderful things that others miss. I wanted some cashmere yarn for a knitting project. It took months, but found it. I was walking through the ladies sweaters and a color caught my eye. The perfect color. The sweater was huge and it had a hole in the sleeve. When I got home I unwound that sweater and had just enough yarn for the project. I'd like to say that it was a lovely gift for a friend, but her birthday has come and gone and that yarn is still in my stash bin. Nobody's perfect. 

Thrifting can come in other forms too. I like to call it closet shopping. I'm lucky enough to have other women in my life that are about the same size. Our clothes tend to make rounds from one closet to the next as we tire of wearing things. I also get hand me downs from family members who pity my meager wardrobe want to send their unwanted clothes to a good home. I'm okay with that.

I just heard the other day about a party that a friend is attending this coming week. It's called a naked lady party. How scandalous! What you do is invite a bunch of friends over and they bring clothes and accessories that they no longer want. Everyone has a good time picking clothes that others have brought. Depending on how rowdy your friends are there may also be some alcohol involved. It seems like a good excuse to get some friends together and spruce up your wardrobe. 

Do you shop at thrift stores, yard sales or closet shop?

1 comment:

  1. Another great post. Last year a friend of mine did a kids clothes and gear exchange, it was great.