Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010- What More Can We Do?

When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s Earth Day was a fairly new event. Every year our community would encourage everyone to clean up any litter in the parks or on the roadsides, and after the day's hard work we were rewarded with a pizza party, and every child was sent home with a tiny tree to plant. A few especially kind souls would stick around to clean up the dozens of disposable plastic cups and paper plates from the party... and come to think of it, every one of those little trees had a paper towel wrapped around its roots.

Today on this 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, thankfully I do think many people are more conscious of what ends up in our landfills, and are also looking for ways to conserve our resources and be less wasteful. Over the years recycling has become commonplace, and we've seen changes in product packaging ranging from our fast food hamburgers no longer being served up in styrofoam boxes, to potato chips contained in biodegradable bags. And as consumers many of us are making more environmentally-friendly decisions when we make purchases. People are buying fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-saving appliances and light bulbs. In the stores we think twice about buying disposable, one-time-use items (like plastic cups and paper plates and towels), and we see more people passing on the plastic bags at the checkout, using a canvas tote bag instead.

So we seem to be thinking about our larger purchases and the things we use every day. But what I'm wondering is, what about all of the items that fall somewhere in between?

For me, buying pre-owned is the answer.

I was raised by frugal parents who taught me that one of the best ways to find a bargain was to buy used items. Along the way I came to appreciate how this also benefits the environment by keeping someone else's unwanted items out of the landfill. And oh yeah- it can be a lot of fun too!

Take for example, this pair of vases I bought at a yard sale a couple of years ago. There are new vases being produced in this style and shape which are currently being sold in trendy retail stores at a price of around $40 to $50 each. I purchased this pair of vintage Kaiser porcelain vases for $10. Mine are made from a quality material, and are actually more detailed than the newer versions. I know it's not likely that my neighbor will have exactly the same thing, and these will retain their value or even appreciate over time. These vases could have ended up in the garbage. When you buy pre-owned you're helping to save the environment and your pocketbook all at the same time.

And now it's easier than ever to find fantastic pre-owned items to purchase. If braving the weather and ramming the roads to shop isn't your cup of tea, there are thousands of unique, quality, pre-owned bargains available right here on the internet. My favorite new site for buying and selling is Their slogan is "Find Everything But the Ordinary" and currently there are over 3 million items available on the site, including a great selection of vintage, antiques, and other pre-owned items.

Do you buy pre-owned and vintage? I'd love to hear your stories about your favorite finds!