Thrifting is something most people are ALL FOR, or often they’re on the other side…the judgement side. Wherever you sit, let me shed some light and just talk about thrifting from a let’s create less waste, reduce, reuse, and recycle kind of view. I know some of you wouldn’t dream of purchasing items pre-loved, this post is for you too. I’ll talk a bit about the power we have in small decisions, such as where you donate your own used items.
When I grew up we didn’t go without, we had what we needed, but we didn’t often have everything NEW, or extras. Family and friends passed down bags of clothes and shared them among households. We actually mended the holes in our socks, and patched the warn out holes in our jeans. Old furniture was given new life, never tossed out. We appreciated what we had and took good care. I want to instill these values in my children. For me thrifting is totally normal and I would even say I love it.
There is something to be said here about the law of attraction. According to Wikipedia it most simply states “The Law of Attraction is the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life”. The new age theory for the law of attraction does not ring true for my own beliefs, but certainly in simple theory, and when applied to every day life, mindset matters, and when your shining bright sunny rays of joy out into the world, your likely to see some of those rays reflected back on you.
Your aditude is everything. When you walk into a thrift store it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. Many people don’t love to search the racks. Well if that’s you, then my friends please, step out of your comfort zone ever so slightly. If you can’t, there are so many options for buying pre-loved, repurposed, recycled, items. Facebook Market place is HUGE, and you can just input what you are looking for and Facebook does the social media thing and connects you with other humans who are selling or giving away the item you need. But for the rest of us who are willing to have a gander, there are some treasures to be saved, and some joy to behold in a finding what you like in a store where you never know exactly what you will find. I am especially drawn to antiques that are truly old with character. This attraction to antiques stems from visiting true antique shops as a child, and wandering through markets. One market of note in my life was in Tyne Mouth England. Though my memories of this place are foggy, I remember them fondly, and believe those memories have really sprouted my fascination with old beautiful, or refurbished things. The items found in a market in England that might go for pence are far more vintage and classy than what one is likely to find in a Canadian flea market where they could literally charge you ARMS AND LEGS, but treasures are so, even more cherished when they do come about.
What do you NEED? Walk in there knowing what you want, because chances are they have it or even something that serves the same purpose that’s different, you just have to find it. Say a little prayer asking for what you need to come available. Here in lies the Joy of it. If today for example I am planning to go buy a dresser for the nursery. I have the one I want from Ikea in mind, and walk in there in search of something that serves that purpose. I am eerily often surprised to find Exactly what I had in mind. More often though I come across something that suits the purpose that’s a fraction of the price, and just as beautiful. If I find nothing that perfectly suits the need, I don’t try to make the wrong thing work, I move on and usually that’s when I consider a new item or other alternative.
Something to recognize about thrifting is the environmental impact, and the impact on your community directly. Reusing items is such a wonderful way to ensure we are reducing our own impact on the earth. I’m not saying purchase your socks pre-loved, but I am saying we really could make the effort before purchasing a whole new manufactured item, to see if we can reuse what we have or thrift something vintage.
I have a couple of rules to follow while Thrifting.
1. Don’t buy it unless you love it, or are absolutely sure of the item, even if it’s priced too good to be true, because of you don’t love it chances are you won’t use it, and it will just be clutter in your home.
2. Go to the store with your ideal items in mind.
3. Involve your kids. When I go to a thrift shop, my boys ask to come, they even consider it fun. (They don’t ever want to shop with me). My kids find joy choosing treasures from the toy section where what they want to go home with rarely costs more than a few dollars. When I buy toys used, I feel less obligation to keep those items in my home when the novelty wears off. Broken items are a hard no for me. If it’s cracked doesn’t function or is dirty in any way, I explain why we can’t take it home and help them choose something more appropriate.
4. Sometimes it’s not a good deal. I’ve been in stores where the item is priced higher than it was purchased new. Don’t be afraid to just leave things on the shelf when they are priced too high. I’m not this bold, but It’s also a place where bargaining is totally acceptable. If the item isn’t priced right, some stores will lower the price or give you a deal if you just ask!
Some things that I’ve purchased from thrift stores over the years that stand out include: Melissa and Doug wooden Puzzles $5 or less, Christmas party dress $8, the beautiful Victorian style mirror hanging in our bathroom $15, My favorite Merell hiking shoes, Ikea shelving. The bulkiest warmest most cherished item in my wardrobe, a beautiful hand knit pull over with a pink and blue waves 🌊🌊🌊 pattern. $3.50
Toys, their importance and their cluttersome burden is something I’ll write more about another time, but my general view of kids toys in the home is that less is more. We have lots of wonderful toys, many thrifted, gifted, or repurposed in some way, and we rotate them. I only put out in our home toys that serve a purpose. Sometimes the purpose is the simple joy of novelty items for children that fades fast, other toys have somthing that stimulate their minds, and interest in some observable way. For those items like a giant rider paw patrol figurine that really feels like it’s invading your space, I say toss it at the first sign of disinterest. Side note here, don’t throw out beloved items. Even ones that you really HATE. If your child is attached to something you need to come to a conclusion about that item together with your child. If the item is opposing to any beliefs you have, you need to be honest with your child, because they will miss that item. But when it comes to those free meal toys, broken items, flashy things they don’t even play with, donate those to a local thrift store.
5. Choose wisely where you shop! I’m writing this in the eerie days of the Covid-19 pandemic where numbers are rising, and so so many mom and pop businesses are struggling, and loosing their life’s work. If you can choose to donate items to the Salvation Army, or local thrift organizations that are non-profit. Also choose to shop there!
The Salvation Army thrift stores in Kamloops have recently shut their doors, although they are supporting the community in other ways still, that revenue for good, is lost for this community forever. Yes. I know there are drive through drop offs for items and huge selections in chain stores. But who is that money from your items that you are freely giving away benefiting? Choose to donate your items where they can do the most good, and the revenue created from your freely given items stays in your community. Because right now all of our communities need these outreach programs. We need the help for low income families and young and old homeless people who are flooding the streets and struggling with mental illness or addiction. At a time when the government is changing course and programs that were once reliable for these people are having to shut their doors. Here in BC more people are dying from overdose death than Covid-19 at an increase from last year in some places of 50%. In Kamloops last year 25 lost souls lost their lives to overdose death. In 2020 by October deaths recorded brought the total to more than 50 before the year is even done. Those are 50 human beings with families who love them who are gone from this earth.
I feel that as our towns have grown into cities and villages to towns, we too have grown our social circles to include THE INTERNET PEOPLE, (I’ll bring them up again at another time). We have lost our Sense of community and lost tough with our compassion for others as a society, maybe because we are disheartened by the volume of the problem facing those less fortunate than we, or from overwhelm of what we could actually do that would make any kind of dent in the issues plaguing our society. Or maybe it’s simply disconnect from human contact and human kindness. I don’t know the answers to any of these big issues that are unfolding in the news, but I do know that I’m just going to take the advise of Author Emily P. Freeman, to keep on “doing the next right thing in Love”, and Kindness.
We have been conditioned by a culture of consumerism. I grew up watching consumer reports in the evenings on the news with my grandparents, so I don’t say this out of judgement, but rather out of wonder and concern for future generations, as well as the current human climate. I am far from removed from this consumer lifestyle, but, our family has taken an interest in shrinking our own footprint on the earth, as well as simply living a cleaner lifestyle, because we have three boys who we want to be able to appreciate the world and all its wonders as we do. We want to not take for granted our privilege as Canadians simply to be in this spectacular place. It’s our responsibility to the planet and our children and all future generations. I could go on, and I realize this seems like a tired cause, but it needs to be heard yelling from the rooftops if we must. You and I are contributing to global warming every day, it’s entirely unavoidable unless you are isolated in the woods somewhere, and even then the effort needed to be off-grid, and sustainable is humongous. Thrifting is one not so small way that my family makes an effort to make a choice with a big effect. In what way can YOU make a small change or better yet a big change today that will make a positive difference.