We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow the earth from our
-Native American Proverb
We have been treating the Earth like we don't live on it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

GSG: Do Buy This

In a previous post I talked about the best thing you can do to be green and save some green is to just don't buy things you don't need. But what if you do need something, like furniture. Buy used, eh, previously owned.

Buying used not only saves you money but it also saves the environment. How you ask? Buying used saves new resources from being cultivated like trees or metals. No need to cut down new trees or mine for new metals to make anything. Also, it takes a lot of energy to make new stuff. Much of the energy in the United States is produced by burning coal (which was mined, destroying the earth to leave it barren) and this pollutes our air and soil. The used item is just being recycled to a new owner.

Here is a list of items that you can buy from someone else at a much cheaper price and what I have learned about them.

  • Books. My favorite thing to buy used. It is easy to buy even from Amazon but you can find used books all over the Internet, just Google search it. Caution: When ordering the book request homes that do not smoke or maybe have animals, the smell will travel with the book.
  • Clothes. This can be fun. You can find name brands for less than a quarter of its original price. Search for Goodwill stores, thrift stores or even consignment shops. Caution: Same as books. Also check the item for discoloration, missing buttons, rips etc.
  • Housewares. Cast iron pans are environmentally great and if the previous owner took good care of the pan and seasoned it well you have a jewel in your kitchen. You can also find glassware for cooking or eating, jars for preserving, cloth napkins, blankets. You name, you can find it.
  • Furniture. This can save you a lot of money. I have not personally bought used furniture except for small pieces like a lamp or book shelf but always look for the same quality you would look for in a new piece. And again check for smells. Garage sales are great for finding these deals. Caution: When buying mattresses and couches or anything with a filling try to buy from someone you know and/or trust. These items can bring mold or microorganisms into your home. And sometimes bedbugs.
  • Vehicles. If you have the cash this can save you a load of green. The original hybrids are now selling used at great prices. Beware of smog regulations for older cars and outdated cars can be huge smoggers. Loans on used cars tend to have a higher interest rate so you end up with paying the same amount you would with a new car in the end; go in with cash. I have not had the pleasure of owning a used car because my knowledge of cars is very limited but if you have that knowledge go for it.
  • House. I can say we bought a "used" house. We know this saves trees and building materials because new homes are not produced using pristine resources, but how does this save money? When my family was in the market for a house the new and used were about the same price, it seems you pay for the neighborhood and the homes features. BUT we saved our money by not having to landscape and get window coverings. Those are huge! Our home was not very old when we bought it so our immediate costs and short term costs were minimized. Over the years we had to replace a water heater and paint but you do that for any house that you live in long term. (Not to mention we scoped out the neighbors that were already established and we loved them, and still do. In new neighborhoods you have no clue to who your neighbors will be.)
  • Other things to get used: your bike, kids' toys (classic wooden ones are great or electronic ones work just fine), plants or trees (sometimes people relandscape and if they take the plant out properly you can snag these for free), appliances (watch for energy saving and cleanliness)
  • Things maybe you should not buy used: underwear (yuck), pillows or hats or stuffed animals (may have lice, unless you know how to get rid of this problem, I just avoid them), old computer software (usually outdated, but if you don't mind then buy it)

Remember to always check the item, thoroughly. Are there leaks, rips, smells or discoloring?

Buy here: EBay, Craiglist, PaperbackSwap, consignment shops, thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales or just search the internet.

Do you have any other ideas? What is your story?


Robin Shreeves said...

music and dvds - we have a fabulous used music and dvd store in the same shopping center as our favorite movie theater. Typical date night for us is go to dinner, buy a few used cd's or movies, then hit the theater.

ya, we're predictable.

Allison said...

That is a great idea! I forgot about music and dvd's.