As urban homesteaders, or frugal folks of any nature, we all know that buying used is not only cost effective, but good for local economies and our environment.
Buying used often means buying local. Buying used means reducing that item’s carbon footprint drastically.
Think about it:
A single item is manufactured, then packaged using fossil fuels. After that, the item is shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, sometimes across the ocean to reach the store shelf, which significantly raises the price of the item due to the costs of fossil fuels and labor for shipping the item. Then, the consumer uses additional fossil fuels to get themselves to said store to purchase the item, and transport it back to their home. Upon which point the aforementioned packaging is discarded (hopefully recycled), and the item can be used by the consumer.
All of that seems terribly wasteful and silly, especially if that item only has one owner in it’s lifetime.
Buy used, people. Don’t you think it makes sense?
Wondering what items are perfectly acceptable to purchase second-hand? If you’re new to second-hand shopping, it might be intimidating to wade through your local thrift store or garage sale. To help to be a savvy thrifter, here are our suggestions:
Cast iron will last forever, and is a great way to add iron and fabulous flavor to your cooking. For instance, 2 of my most cherished cast iron pieces are technically antiques. One of which belonged to my great-grandmother, making it almost 80 years old. Even if the cast iron is rusted or looks in bad shape, you can easily restore the finish with a little elbow grease.
Dishes, including serving dishes
Platters, serving bowls, trays, plates, bowls, or mugs. All of these things can be picked up, sometimes for pennies, second-hand. It’s also easy to find matching sets, or quality pieces that are mis-matched that will still go well with your set at home.
John and I are minimalists when it comes to dishes. In fact, we use a plain white set of dishes, accompanied by white serving dishes – all free of patterns of any sort – so we can pick up plain white serving dishes as needed.
One of my favorite DIY projects include a can of spray paint and a thrift store lamp. Keep an eye out for lamps that have ‘good bones’. Don’t pay any attention to the color or the style of shade – those things can be easily changed. It’s silly to pay over $40 for a similar lamp that you can pick up at a consignment shop for less than $10.
Shovels, rakes, hammers, and other manual tools. While John (and most other homestuds out there) have an arsenal of sacred tools in their garages, he’s quick to pick up a quality hand tool or garden tool to use on our urban homestead. Especially if something is in a set, like sockets or wrenches, pay attention to pieces that will complete your incomplete set.
The last time I bought a new book? I can’t recall. We use our library often – we’re there almost every 2 weeks. If (and that’s a big ‘if’…) we can’t find something at our local library, we will hit up our used book store. Paying less than a buck for a book makes it pretty easy for me to donate that text back to the store without any heartache.
The same as serving dishes, simple silverware without a pattern is a great item to buy second-hand. For some reason, we are short a few forks every year or so. I just pick up a few at a sale here or there to complete our set.
One trick my sister taught me is to get stationary, cards, and invitations from second-hand stores. Oftentimes there are unopened packages of stationary for less than a dollar at thrift stores. She’s a smart cookie, that sister of mine. This definitely feeds my tendency to mail little cards and notes to friends, but with a frugal focus.
Certain furniture items.
Our favorites are patio furniture, or any pieces we can DIY. Rarely do we buy anything that can’t be cleaned, washed or reupholstered, so that means outdoor furniture or anything that can be refinished is perfect for our home. Dressers, coffee and end tables, dining tables and chairs, barstools, and desks are some favorites.
Nearly all home decor items
Picture frames, candle holders, decorative plates and chargers, wreathes, baskets, vases…you get the idea. Just don’t go overboard here and become a hoarder. Adopt a minimalist attitude and only pick up home decor items that you absolutely love, or will serve a functional purpose.
Sporting good items
Bicycles, balls, bats, yard games, and more – these are items that aren’t used daily, but are nice to have around for parties and summer gatherings. If you find a quality item that isn’t missing any pieces and it’s affordable, pick ‘er up!
What are some things you buy used? Any tips for the rest of us?