New and Used Treasures

10 Apr

Before Christmas, I saw a cheap but sturdy armoire by the side of the road, outside the nearby daycare centre.  My mom stayed with the boys while my husband and I dragged it home on a furniture dolly.  It’s not very pretty but it makes a useful pantry in my formerly pantry-less kitchen.

A few months after that terrific discovery, I found a vintage wooden children’s desk (with attached chair) outside the daycare.  I picked up my son and picked up the desk at the same time.  It is now RJ’s crafting desk downstairs.

I love second-hand stuff. I love yard sales and second hand shops like Value Village, Salvation Army* and the various little mom and pop owned organizations.  There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a great bargain on something you need or want. I have no pride and will take just about anything second hand, for free or a small price. My only exceptions are pillows, socks, underwear, toiletries, and mattresses.  My squeamishness and hygienic standards dictate that those items be new, but everything else is fair game.

Oh…I just realized I have a second-hand pillow.  Ewwww!!!!

In making a quick inventory of the main floor of my house, I’ve come up with this:

Computer desk: $60.00 from a strange little second hand shop on the other side of town (came with a wooden chair and a shelving unit)

Computer chair: my mom’s house

Computer: purchased new

Television: Jason’s dentist gave it to us

Crafting dresser (stores all my crafting supplies): mom’s house

Love seat and chair: mom’s house

Dresser (for toy and diaper and kids’ costume storage): from Gramma’s house

Three shelving units full of books, dvds, toys: purchased new

Two area rugs: purchased new at Zellers liquidation and Canadian tire (with birthday money)

TV/Stereo stand: mom’s house

Kitchen table: $25.00 from a yard sale

Corner shelving unit: a furniture hack comprised of a bottom corner unit from a friend and a top shelf piece from another friend

Corner pantry unit: found outside the daycare

Shelf beside the fridge: Purchased new at the Zellers liquidation sale

Turtle tanks: Yard sale finds for $20.00 (though the turtles were purchased new in 1993)

Barbecue – free, given to us by friends who had two and only needed one

Outdoor play structure/swing set: Yard sale find for $150.00

Outdoor sandbox: built by my brother

Dishes and utensils, towels, dish cloths, face cloths: from mom’s house, Gramma’s house, and yard sales

Many books, cds, dvds:  combination of second hand finds and new purchases.

Appliances: Mostly new purchases, majority being wedding gifts or purchases with wedding money

Kids’ toys: combination of new, thrifted, hand-me-downs, and yard sale finds

Various decorative items: combination of new, gifts, and thrifted finds

If I went through the rest of the house and yard, the result would be the same: a combination of new and second-hand.

I have a friend who made a lifestyle decision to never purchase anything new (with a few exceptions) and she blogs about her journey here: Never New.  While I haven’t come to quite the same decision as this blogger, I love some of the reasons behind her choice, especially this one:

I am a citizen of this earth. As such, I believe that we should compost, recycle, upcycle, do whatever we can to heal this earth that we have hurt for so long. I want to try my best to leave this a better, healthier place for my boys.

As a mother, also to two boys, I feel this sentiment deeply.

My desire to buy second-hand stems from the way I was raised.  We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child and my mom did a great job keeping us in clothes, toys, and Christmas presents through her gift of thrift.  Now, as an adult with my own family, I also don’t have a lot of money.  Second hand, is just common sense for us.  However, I like to think that if I was better off (financially), I would continue in my quest for second-hand treasures.

I also enjoy shopping second-hand because I like the idea of keeping things out of landfills.  Why bother buying something new if there is something old in great shape that can do the job just as well?  A trip to the dump will reveal boxes of books, bags of clothes, furniture, computers, and just about anything you can think of. Everything is just thrown onto the never-ending piles of garbage. Their only uses now are as landing perches for thousands of seagulls. I can’t understand why people throw out perfectly good and functioning appliances or perfectly wearable clothing.  It’s just as easy to drive your leftovers to a second-hand store, a shelter house, or a friend’s house, as it is to drive your stuff to the dump.

Just as I was, my future children will be well versed in the world of previously owned goods. When they are old enough to make and spend their own money, they will probably buy brand new clothes and toys etc.  I did the same thing when I got my first job. But I also learned that not everything needs to be new. My children will learn the same thing and hopefully grow up with similar values. They may grow up to be wasteful and materialistic but at least I will have tried my best in building a foundation of ethical consumption.

I consider it a personal triumph when I discover something unwanted by another. If I take something previously used and re-purpose it for myself, then I have indeed found a treasure. Everything that comes into my home is cared for and nothing is wasted. Sometimes it stays a few weeks; sometimes its stay is longer (maybe forever!). Regardless of how long we keep something, it will always be passed on to someone in need. The life of an inanimate object should not be cut short by a trip to the dump. There will always be somebody out there who needs and wants what you have.  Laziness shouldn’t stop one from giving; pride shouldn’t stop one from accepting.

* I realize that a lot of people have trouble with some of the values/beliefs of organizations like Value Village and Salvation Army.  But as long I can keep buying clothes and household items at bargain prices, I’ll continue to give them my business.  I realize that sounds a tad snobby, but there aren’t a lot of second-hand stores to choose from in Thunder Bay.

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