I am not a typical consumer. Inside I’ve always felt sheepish about buying things, wanting things, confusing needs with wants. Fittingly, I’ve always abhorred waste, and I’ve been ‘reducing, recycling, and reusing’ long before it was trendy. I take seriously my role as steward over the land and home and things I’ve been blessed with in life.
That said, I have another side that is quite the consumer, that loves thrift stores and yard sales and street finds. That side of me can’t get enough. I grew up literally in the shadow of a thrift store, a girl’s dream to walk in with a quarter and walk out with a new doll or a few new doll’s outfits. And, as I got older: a cashmere sweater or the vintage chiffon dress I wore to my Senior Homecoming.
Yard, Garage, Rummage, Tag Sales… call them what you may… I’ve outfitted many a lifestyle with treasures discovered there, from a set of copper-bottom Revere Ware pans that I used in college, to a scrolled metal console table that was topless, but now resides perfectly in our foyer topped with a mirror.
Street Finds may be my favorite, because they’re free! obviously; and because upon encountering one, so many times I’m left wondering “Why on EARTH would someone throw that out?!?” New York City is notorious for trash treasures, and living there has made it easy to ahem, hone my picking skills. For example, if I’m not able to carry the treasure away immediately- it’s too heavy or my hands are too full- I hide the treasure until I can return. My dumpster dives have resulted in everything from this bent bamboo sofa…
…to the house my best friend lived in as a newly wed. Not kidding. Now there’s a story.
I am not a perfect non-consumer and my carbon footprint is enormous, due to a couple of aspects of life: my job, my place(s) of living. I fret about this. As I stand at the kitchen sink washing plastic bags to reuse, or as I keep the thermostat below 65 even in coldest winter, and layer on another layer, I wonder what difference my efforts can possibly make, compared with my errors?
I’ve found a few “friends” along the way- in my everyday life, and in the world at large- who also struggle with the dilemma between wantneedhave and don’tneedathingthankyouverymuch. I’ll be introducing a few of them this month. They help me evaluate my environmental efforts v. the world spinning out of control, doing so with humor and thoughtfulness that makes it seem like every little thing gonna be alright.