Sunday, July 01, 2012

thrifty consumption

the box, camera and balloon pump were thrift finds. i found the balloon pump when i was in high school!
I think it is safe to say that I changed my thrifting habit. Curbed it even, sort of. I used to thrift for the thrill of finding vintage but now, now I thrift for needful and useful things. Things I put on my mental list, things to craft with and things for the preschool. I also only really go to the Goodwill Outlet here in town. It is a mess of a warehouse full of piles of junky junk and crappy crap with enough jewels tossed into the mix that you keep returning, and returning...and returning until you are one of those people; one of the regulars (I don't know any of their names but we're starting to nod at each other as we eyeball the others' armload). While I do not own my own pair of gloves, nor do I understand the whole system, I'm there often enough it could be embarrassing if I wasn't a natural born thrifter.
the green vase and the shelf were thrift scores... $2.25 total
Now I dash in with the idea that I need something red to craft with or perhaps a white pillowcase for another project. Sometimes I visit with a mantra in my head hoping the thrifting gods will hear me. Once I went chanting "salad spinner, salad spinner, salad spinner" and there one was for all of a quarter! I've found shelves for the tiny casa, tins for the mister's homemade ukes, rugs to color up the kitchen floor and tablecloths that I always think I will cut up for crafting but never do. Useful things, things I have been hoping to find, good things for super cheap!
we needed something for our keys, this was $1! one coat of paint later and it makes a happy home for keys.
That doesn't mean I am a superior and savvy hardcore thrifter only buying things that have a purposeful purpose. I'm still highly attracted to colorful pyrex, kitschy coffee mugs and pretty frocks. But I have grown, I have! I pass up so many wonderfully fun vintage bits it makes my head and heart hurt a little but I have no room to showcase, only the quirkiest get swept up. I also have no head for a business as I have enough here in the tiny casa I need to photograph and list. So when I do find something extra swanky but it is not something I am going to by, I will pull it out and display it for the other regulars to see. Mostly that involves clothing with valuable labels, old and new. The other day I found a pretty Pendelton button-down with only the tiniest of a moth hole near the bottom would get buried quickly so I made a show of inspecting it and left it on the top. I have a good eye and some of them regulars know it as they swoop in on my discards. I often wonder what they think of my armloads of plastic colanders (perfect for little hands to push pipe cleaners into) coupled with a kitschy chalkware bank and short pile of 1970s potholders.
the rug was $1 and the rest totaled $3 (incl brand new micro grater)!
 Yet, even though I grin ear to ear with my scores, I often leave with a different kind of ache in my heart at all that crappy crap I root through, the stuff that is not fit to place in a real thrift store, the stuff that people consider disposable and cheap. Holiday themed plastic cups and serveware, dollar store dishes and cheapie stuffed toys make up most of the stock. It's as if people think donating all the cheap replaceable bits to a thrift store is a good thing when mostly it should be recycled or better yet, not purchased at all. It makes me rethink how I spend and while I am super attracted to the happy summer colors every season at Target, I know I could spend a better penny on something that will last many summers. It is why I save my pennies to purchase a handmade garlic keeper or giant mason jar water server instead of rushing out to have something now because for now, what I have works and will do. It might not be as pretty as I would like but it is serviceable and having something work even if it is bland is better than replacing your drinking glasses every year. The plastic goods and cheapie cheap items that clutter up our thrift stores tend to leave a lot of clutter in my mind. I'm trying to think it through, to word it well, this concern I have for our (over crowded) planet. I'm trying to rework my own patterns of consumption even as I pin away all the pretty I would love to have. So I'm trying to be thrifty in my consumption, both pennywise and environmentally sound. And while I did indeed just spend three dollars on a bucketful of crappy crap (I'm installing a water-wall at the preschool) I think if I can plan it out, and sit on it, my baby steps will only get bigger.
$1 and a coat of paint equals a happy mail/receipt center
**and ahem, I do have a follow up post for a pretty awesome thrift score that I just couldn't pass up. But in my defense, most of it IS useful...mostly.


  1. LOVE this post - lovelove.
    I have gotten to the point that I cannot even walk into the dollar store or down the dollar aisle at Target or down the 'foam stick-ons' aisle in craft stores -- all that MASSIVELY MASS-PRODUCED plastic and foam!!! -- it actually makes me feel a little nauseas. It all brings to mind the Earth as it's depicted in WALL-E...

  2. Did I tell you how awesome you are?