The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Conflict of Interests: Second-hand Goods

Our dumps around the globe are full. A single person truly can make a difference even if it's just by the ripple effect alone. I long to be a better steward of our planet and a better steward of my belongings in general. Part of being a good steward to me means not buying so many things.

Whenever it makes sense, I try to buy second-hand. This generally matches more of my aesthetic anyway (one could argue, any aesthetic could manage with finding the right second-hand fit). Second-hand is often cheaper when looking at the right comps.

Second-hand does have certain draw backs that I have a hard time overcoming. First of which being smell. If you've ever walked into any Value Village or Goodwill store then you know exactly what I mean. The stench in those stores seeps into every single object found. It really is gross and is enough to make me never want to shop there (even though I know there are treasures to be found). The way I overcome this is by shopping second hand on Craigslist, eBay, ETSY or second-hand stores that are more collected and less dumped. eBay and ETSY can be risky though because you don't know for sure if the item(s) will smell but depending on what you're purchasing that may not apply. In the past I've messaged the seller to ask if the item smells.

I've gotten quite good at buying used furniture. Maybe it's the season of life with young kids that has inspired me so. Quality furniture does not need to be bought brand new. In fact, one is probably more likely to find affordable quality furniture used as most brand new furniture these days is disposable, low quality. They really don't make things the way they used to. Things used to be made to last.

Here's where the conflict of interest arises. I want books. I want to buy used books because they are 1)cheaper and 2)environmentally friendly. Certainly, I don't need to buy a brand new copy when there are hundreds of perfectly good used copies floating around. Half Price Books would be a great place to shop (mostly stench free) but there isn't close by. I check Value Village and getting the smell out of books from that place seems an impossible feat. So, I come home, I look on Amazon. Problem: I don't want to buy a gross, smelly old book. Used books that are in "like-new" condition would be ideal but they are usually priced very similar to brand new and for fifty cents, I'm thinking, I might as well have a beautiful, fresh, crisp new version of the book. Before you know it I've just contributed to the mass production of goods and the mass filling of the land-fills in our country and around the world!

Second conflict: used clothing. This to me can be gross. Hand me downs are one thing but buying used clothing from someone I don't know tends to gross me out. Last year, I bought a used shirt on eBay. Overall I would say it was a success. The only drawback being that I use unscented detergent to wash my own clothing so when I come across clothing that is washed with scented detergent the smell is powerful and usually gives me a headache and contributes to the grossness factor. Walking about in a shirt that doesn't smell like me is not comfortable. Needless to say, that shirt was a fail and I resold it on eBay. This year, I bought a used pair of shorts on eBay and this was victorious! I love them and am so very happy that I finally bought a used piece of clothing that works!

Second-hand objects. You win some, you lose some. Ultimately I do my best to make intentional decisions about what I buy and hope that I continue to do as best I can until I can do better. I guess I can't beat myself up about buying a few new books but the principle remains and leaves me feeling like I can do more to make Earth conscious decisions.

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