Not long ago, it was the norm to “shop til you drop.” Buying was fashionable and showed status- fancy clothes, new cars, and trendy decor. It was actually uncool to buy something that had been previously owned. Used items were seen as unclean and might give the impression that you couldn’t afford new.
Fortunately, this is changing. People are realizing that once you have worn something one time, it becomes “used” anyway. In green-minded Portland, the buying of brand new items is developing the same stigma originally attributed to the buying of used items. Everyone is shopping at second hand and resale stores. Everyone is wearing used clothing, getting furniture from Craigslist, and reading copies of books handled by twelve other people first. Recently, I heard a fashionably dressed group of women discussing over lunch who got the best deal at second hand stores. These were not 20′s hipsters but 40′s professionals.
Not so long before the age of consumables, people did not purchase just for the sake of purchasing – they thought about what they needed, bought quality pieces so the items would last, and passed unneeded items on to someone who would use them. This is where heirlooms come from (and furniture from the 70′s) and why most grandmother’s have a lined box in the attic containing someone’s wedding dress.
It’s all about REUSE. Reuse is the second “R” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repeat)- keeping as much as possible out of the landfill and out of the recycling process (which is better than the landfill but still uses resources that wouldn’t need to be expended if we reused whatever we are trying to recycle). There are other costs associated with the garbage and recycling processes such as pickup, fuel for the trucks, land on which to put a landfill, etc.
Reuse can take several forms. Buying a couch from a second hand store is reuse. Taking apart old clothes and making them into new clothes is reuse. Planting garage sale plates in your garden as accents is reuse. Breaking up an old television and turning it into a sculpture is also reuse. Reuse is about giving something a new life, turning something that may be past it’s usefulness to me into something useful for you. Recycling is a wonderful option, and it doesn’t have to be the first option.
Here are places that can reuse your stuff:
Your own home: paint it, take it apart, find it a new home, use it for something you weren’t using it for before, or put it on consignment at a local resale store.
SCRAP – Community Reuse Center provides affordable materials and education programs to promote creative reuse.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Donate and buy new and reusable building materials, appliances, furniture, and other home improvement products.
Community Warehouse – Donate usable house goods- including furniture, kitchenware, linens, and small appliances.
Schoolhouse Supplies – Oregon’s first and only volunteer-run free store to provide teachers with much needed classroom supplies.
And don't forget us! We have used items for your home, office, or store.