Fix it up and wear it out, make it do or do without

Earth Day Network Guest Blogger - Christina Dubin, MS Ed, RYT - West Newbury, MA - www.earthelephant.com

Flea markets and antique stores frequently dot the landscape of New England but how many people actually furnish and decorate their home with pre-owned goods? Personally, I find my old furnishings bring a bit of history into my home. They have a character that a pressboard cabinet from China just doesn’t have. Not only made from a whole natural substance (wood, glass), they are often sturdier after 50 yrs. than their contemporary counterparts are after 2 yrs.

You don’t have to spend big bucks to buy so called antiques. Search local flea markets, yard sales and online marketplaces such as craigslist.com or freecycle.com. UPcycle. Clean it up, add a little paint or if you are blessed with carpentry skills, modify the piece to fit your needs. The time you invest will be more rewarding than the time spent walking through the fluorescent-lit aisles of Home Depot. Wouldn’t you rather spend a sunny Sunday morning strolling an open-air flea market?

This method definitely requires patience. If you are looking for the perfect bookshelf it may take you a few weeks to find it...maybe even a few months. The American attitude of instant gratification has caused us to be a wasteful society. We want it and we want it now. It doesn’t matter if it’s an import that isn’t helping our economy, it doesn’t matter if it’s made of cheap materials and will fall apart in 5 years with no other future but to be land fill.

Of course, there are items you won’t be able to find and will have to purchase new but you can do this responsibly and consciously. Ask yourself, where was it made? Is there a company which manufactures the product in the good ol’ USA? Is the packaging recyclable and easy enough to recycle that you will actually do it? How long is the warranty? Does it seem sturdy or cheaply made? What do the reviews say (epinions.com)? Is it energy star rated? Is there an alternative option made of sustainable resources (bamboo flooring vs. linoleum)?

Let’s remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.