Green Life Project is a weekly series of posts highlighting one change for readers to make in order to gradually green their lives.
This week’s Green Life Project action item is to begin shopping at secondhand stores.
I know, you may have a bias against buying something secondhand. The fact that someone else was using it can make some of us squeamish, but pretty much anything you buy from a thrift store can be washed, whether clothing or homewares, and how many of us have bougth items at yardsales? Or tried on a pair of jeans at a store which potentially many other people had tried on?
The point is, squeamishness can be put aside. I love to cook and many of us are rediscovering the value of knowing how to cook and cook well, both as a societal/cultural change, and one made to help us to eat locally grown, fresh foods. I will focus on the cooking/serving items I have bought secondhand.
We can help close the loop on materials through reusing items before sending them off for recycling of their raw materials. By closing that gap, you can find some deals and improve your envirohuman impact!
What items in my kitchen are secondhand? Actually, the shorter list for me would be that which is not secondhand. Most of my lot, my preparation and eating utensils, my mixing bowls, pots, pans, and measuring cups, were bought at different secondhand stores. And most of it was in great condition — usually with something cooked on that had to be scrubbed away. But you sometimes will find almost new, some stuff still with the tags left on them! You would not know my stuff is secondhand items were not bought new — most of them are glass or stainless steel and have been scrubbed back to a like-new shine.XX
Quality items can be had for cheap! Most utensils at many thrift stores will go for a dime to fifty cents per piece. Compare that to a $10 or $15 set of new Kitchen Aid brand measuring cups! Many secondhand stores will occasionally be overstocked and hold half-price or $1 per bag sales, where you can really get major deals on gently used stuff.
Sometimes you can even score restaurant-grade cookware for cheap. I recently bought a huge stainless steel Vollrath brand sauce pot for less than $4; it probably would have run me $50 or more new. If you are willing to search, great deals are available!
Secondhand stores can often provide hard-to-find or usually expensive items — but you have to be willing to look! I have some very nice heavy-disk bottom Revere Ware pots that were a fraction of the cost that you pay for new ones. These were in like-new condition and will likely last me a long time. Collanders, muffin tins, cake pans, pie plates, custard dishes, you name it, I’ve found it! Restoration Hardware brand plates? I paid around $3 for all six.
Sometimes the items need to be scrubbed with steel wool and others are beyond being saved. But knowing when to recognize those items that can be restored is the key! You would be surprised what you can find, especially for someone who likes to cook!
Greener? By buying used products, you’re reducing the collective need of our society to use our resources to make new. If you haven’t already, start shopping for gently used items at a local thrift store today!