WHY SHOPPING SECOND HAND MATTERS.
I am becoming more and more aware of the overwhelming global energy crisis, and happy that Americans are looking for ways to make small changes that add up. We install solar panels, buy hybrid cars, and turn down the thermostat. Yet when it comes to everyday shopping, we are contentedly conditioned to buy more than we need: new things (cheaply) made halfway around the world.
Sometime within the last 100 years, we’ve lost the power to dialogue with shopkeepers to define our own needs, and buy the things that are actually relevant to our lives as we define them. Instead, retailers helpfully inform us of what we need, what makes us cool. This exact scenario was foretold by the great and wise Dr. Seuss in his book The Lorax. He said, “A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People -Need! … I’m figgering on biggering and biggering, turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds which everyone … needs!”
Everyone loves the Lorax, but as we read it to our kids, we sometimes fail to realize that we’ve been buying those Thneeds – completely programmed by retailers to replace a need with a Thneed. Our passive attitude toward overpackaged, well-traveled consumer goods is becoming a major obstacle in conserving energy ( and those precious Truffula trees). It’s not doing much for our flailing economy either. But what are we to do when we’re told that shopping is a patriotic activity? Women going on a spending spree at the mall are simply doing their part to “stimulate the economy”, and lets not even begin on the societal embarrassment that is Black Friday. Safe to say, we’re a culture well-steeped in our obsession with consumption.
There is an alternative to this wasteful paradigm,
and its infrastructure is already in place: thrift shopping.
It’s already making a difference, but it has the potential for a much bigger impact. The new product retail market has conditioned us for years to believe “if it’s not new, it’s eww!” Unfortunately, this concept was often accurately perpetuated by thrift stores that were unkept, dingy and took no pride in the presentation of their storefront. One look into most thrift stores 10 – 15 years ago, and “eew!” would have been an understandable knee-jerk response. The average American new-product consumer is largely unaware that thrift stores are coming of age, becoming specialized, cleaner, more efficient and have a higher quality of products.
For today’s earth-conscious consumer, the weighing question now is: how does thrift shopping lower our carbon footprint? No additional energy is required to fill the consumer’s need for a gently used product. The fuel of long-haul transport, often from the other side of the earth, has already been burned. The only fuel attached to the item is the car ride over to the donation site. Reused products do not have the weight and waste of excessive packaging and security devices that new products do. Finally, thrift-store shopping diverts reusable items from landfills. That is respectable energy savings.
Thrift shopping connects us to each other: The profits from the sale of repurposed products in charity-run thrift stores directly promote the repurposing of lives in need. Not only do we avoid product waste, through our contributions we help aid another human’s life. In these rough economic times, charities are hit hard, as Americans lose their jobs and re-prioritize their finances. Make sure to read reviews here or a host of other sites to find out what thrift stores support charities.
In making the choice to shop at thrift stores, consumers are taking power back from retailers and marketing campaigns, no longer having to choose between shopping and being charitible or reducing their carbon footprint.