One of the best ways to be green and be frugal is to recycle. I’m not just talking about the bottles, cans and paper you take to the curb on recycling day… I’m talking about recycling things like clothing, toys, books and household goods. There are plenty of good reasons to buy or trade used items instead of buying new. First of all, used items are a greener choice because the production of new items generates pollution and uses up valuable resources. Second, recycling older items rather than tossing them reduces the amount of trash in the landfills. Third, used items are always significantly cheaper… just perfect for those of us living on a tight budget. And finally, sharing used items builds good will and a sense of community. That last reason is one of my favorites! Here’s an example of how that works: We have friends with older children… they give us clothing that their kids have outgrown. My kids have “new” clothes, which they love, and then we pay it forward by giving my kids’ outgrown clothing to our friends who have younger children. See how nice that is? Another example: Yesterday, a friend gave me some beautiful wood puzzles. Her children no longer used them, so she didn’t need them anymore. She got some clutter out of her house, and I was Blessed with some lovely new puzzles for my little daycare friends. Good feelings, all around!
There are many resources out there for finding stuff you need, as well as getting rid of stuff you don’t.
Clothing: For kids clothing, try www.thredup.com or resale shops, such as the ChildrensOrchard. Or, try hosting a Clothing Swap! Invite fellow parents over, and ask them to bring a bag (or more) of outgrown, gently used clothes. Everyone can then go through and pick things they want to take home. Anything left over at the end of the Swap can be donated to a local charity. For adult clothing, there are trendy little resale shops popping up all over the place, these days.
Toys and baby equipment: Check places like eBay, Craigslist and good ol’ garage sales. Just use common sense when it comes to buying things like car seats and other safety stuff… make sure what you're buying is in good condition and hasn’t been recalled. Recently, we purchased an awesome Little Tikes climber for the backyard through Craigslist for less than 1/5 of the cost of buying it new.
Household items and exercise equipment: Again, eBay and Craigslist are great! Also, check your local Freecycle or neighborhood garage sales. I have several pieces of furniture which were acquired from garage sales and church rummage sales. I love “vintage” pieces with personality! A couple of years ago I decided I needed a treadmill so that I could run even when we’re in the midst of our New England winter… I picked up a used-once one for $70 via Craigslist.
Books: Look for a used book shop in your community, or check out sites like alibris.com and half.com You can also find used books on Amazon.com. And don’t forget to make use of your local library!
One word of warning… it’s easy to get carried away when buying used, because it’s so cheap! You might find yourself buying things you don’t necessarily need, just because they seem like a good bargain. Remember the “one item in, one item out” rule from my kids’ organizing post, even when buying used. And don’t forget to donate those “items out” so that they can be recycled, too!