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Green City Garden Girl: Tips for Buying Used Goods

12/16/2010 1:08:21 PM

Tags: green city garden girl, kylynn hull, secondhand, shopping, save money, buy used, buying used, used goods, thrifting, thrift, consignment stores, craigslist, garage sales

KyLynn HullKyLynn Hull is a stay-at-home mom and dabbles in many things including writing, urban farming and raising backyard chickens. She writes regularly for garden and food blog, Green City Garden Girl - Bound by the Seasons. 

Now here me out—I have a thing about buying used goods. I may be slightly obsessed about it, but I'm very fulfilled when I get a deal and know it wasn't purchased brand-new. I wish I was perfect—I'm far from it—but I genuinely give a hoot about the environment and the waste we put into it. I realize other folks don't have this desire (and I try to hide my disappointment), and I admit I have a few new items littering the house I wish I didn't have—but I'd dare guess the spectrum sways toward the used side in my home than new. And you can quote me on that.

I just want to offer a few suggestions to save money by buying used while limiting your impact on the environment in return. A Win-Win!

garage sale goods 
Pick up household items for cheap at garage sales. Photo By Susy Morris/Courtesy Flickr. 

If you have (or are having) kids, take this simple advice when looking for your basic needs, such as strollers, joggers, changing tables, toys, blankets and clothes:

• Search your local classifieds (Craigslist, etc.) for practically anything you could want for a new baby, growing toddler or school-aged kid. Why pay full price when you can get someone's seconds that are almost new! 

• Search garage sales in your area. You will be amazed at what people give away. I just happened to stop by a garage sale on Capitol Hill and got two like-new Stearns life vests for $5. Yes, two!

• Take advantage of consignment shops. Turn your old children's clothing and toys into cash (or credit) by taking them to your local shop to consign. I carry about $60-$80 credit for used goods at my local consignment shop in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. Think about how much I can buy with $60 in children's used clothes and accessories.

• Use your friends and family by asking what items they no longer need and would like to donate (or loan) to you. You save money—and the Earth—by borrowing used items relevant to your situation. I am happy to say there is not one thing (besides some toys and clothes) in my son's room that isn't used—and his room looks sharp! Don't get me started, but even the blanket he uses every day was used 12 years ago! Love it!

• Get involved in local Yahoo! Mom Groups designed to connect with your neighborhood. It's an amazing resource for buying used. I can't tell you how much I utilize my own group for just about anything.

blazer hip purse 
Turn used men's blazers into fashionable hip purses. Photo By KyLynn Hull. 

Take advantage of smart savings when updating your wardrobe or home accessories:

• Scour your secondhand stores. Man, when I worked on Mercer Island—an affluent suburb of Seattle—I shopped their local second-hand store every day on my lunch hour. Say no more, I was looking SMOOTH and had so many brand-named clothes for a few dollars each. Take advantage of the ultra-hip, second-hand stores, especially in college towns and cities, where you'll find all the latest styles but at half (or more) of the price.

• This may be crossing the "Eco" line because it's new merchandise, but a great way to save money is utilizing companies' "overstock" sections. Shop stores like Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Overstock.com and (on most company websites) overstock/clearance links guiding you to pillows, sheets and clothes galore at a fraction of the original. I received three bathing suits from Land's End this summer for around $10-$13 each—shipping included!

• Online shopping has never been easier. This is a dream come true for me because I'm not a big shopper and love the convenience of shopping from home—but I don't like paying for shipping. So, I always search online for free shipping promotional codes. These are money savers and I don't know if you've noticed, but I kinda like that.

• Clothes you no longer wear can be recycled into hip pillow cases or purses. You can take advantage of all that unique fabric from all your crazy Hawaiian or Mexican getaway purchases to update into pillows for a couch or bedroom, or use men's blazers to create a hip purse. You can either do-it-yourself or ask your local dry cleaner, who provides this service for a fee.



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