Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Being a Cheapskate (& loving the earth)

At least once or twice a week, I look down and take stock of my outfit for the day. Almost everyday, I can count on wearing one item that I bought at a thrift store. Sometimes my entire outfit (excluding under-things) is made up of things that were either thrifted or free. I actually love scouring thrift store for lovely things that others have left behind. Case in point: my favorite pair of shoes.

These babies were found at a Goodwill store. I have worn them for three years now, and they are still in decent shape. I like shopping at thrift stores because tons of clothing is tossed aside that is still wearable. I like the idea of buying things at a cheaper price, and buying reused things instead of new.

Thrift stores are not just for clothes. I outfitted our entire kitchen with dishes & glasses senior year of college for under $10 at a Salvation Army store. I always have a list in the back of my mind of things I'm looking for: sugar bowls, wineglasses, candlesticks, Pyrex baking dishes, etc. When I find them at thrift stores I snatch them up. Most of these things are better made and last longer than what I could buy at Target.

While putting our new apartment together, I have often exclaimed, "Craigslist is amazing!" And it's true. Without Craigslist, getting furniture for our apartment would have been much more expensive.

Every piece of furniture in this picture of our living room was purchased from Craigslist. We also bought our vacuum cleaner, nightstands, and microwave from the site.

I like the thrill of Craigslist. Of finding something promising and contacting the seller...hoping to hear from them right away...and going to check out items. This is my favorite because I generally develop a picture of the person in my mind based on their name and email address. It's great to visualize who I will see...and then be completely surprised. I also like that by being a thrifty cheapskate, by default I am demonstrating my love for the earth. Otherwise, we would have bought a brand new coffee table that was just as nice. This way old things continue to be used, and are not discarded in landfills.

Our most recent (and most awesome, in my opinion) find took 3 months to happen. Since we moved in, we've wanted a table for eating meals at, but have a very limited amount of space to work with. Our kitchen has an awkward counter that takes up the space available for a table. So we decided to look for a round table with drop leaf sides, so it wouldn't take up much space, and cleared a space in our office for it. These tables are hard to come by, and way too expensive to buy new (because they are generally solid wood and well-constructed), so I relegated myself to the search. James and I had made several inquiries that all fell through...until this Sunday. Just 5 minutes from our house, we were able to acquire this:

The novelty of having a table hasn't worn off yet. We look forward to dinner not only for delicious food, but also for the chance to use the table. We're looking forward to treating the table to its first Thanksgiving dinner this month.

I am actually pretty proud of being a cheapskate when it comes to buying used clothing, furniture, and other items. It's a practical and fun way for me to feel like I am doing something ecologically sound.

Public Service Announcement: Always be careful when buying used upholstered furniture. I actually prefer Craigslist to thrift stores because you can talk to the person who is selling the items and take a look at their home. Bed bugs are a big problem, so I don't think I'd purchase something upholstered without interacting with the seller.