Thursday, July 28, 2011

Second-hand Life

"Where did you get that?"

Anyone who knows me well, knows the most likely answer I’ll give if asked that question: “at the thrift store,” or “freecycle,” or “from _insert name of friend or family member here__” … but very rarely, ”we bought it retail.”

I look around my house and am constantly reminded of all the people who have blessed and are blessing my life, who no longer needed objects which I welcomed into my home … shelves that used to be the Witwers, Sue’s cedar chest, the tin-top table my parents gave us, the cabinet that was in the kitchen of my childhood home that now houses crockpots and craft supplies in mine, bins from Dawn, bookcases from my sister, Jennie’s painting, a trunk from the Finers, things made for me by my husband and kids, a beautiful skirt from Heidi, a tv and vcr (yes, we still watch things on vhs!) from Sharon, and so much more. And then there are the treasures collected from thrift stores and yard sales. Even our cat is second-hand, a “special needs” adult cat adopted from the Humane Society. Perhaps my favorites are the several-feet-tall penguins that adorn our deck, sneaked into our yard by friends before they moved across the country.

Living a second-hand life not only means we save money, but we help save the planet as well. We reduce our carbon footprint by reusing or repurposing our own and other people’s stuff instead of buying it new. Legs rusted off the grill? No problem – we just put it on a cast iron fish tank stand (and recycle the legs!). Our annual pirate party wouldn’t be quite the same without our tag-saled ship’s wheel, our thrift-shopped shower curtain sail, and the boat sandbox from church friends. Why buy storage containers when our food comes in them? From big bulk artichoke heart jars to glass peanut butter jars to jelly jars to baby food jars, we have the perfect size jar for just about anything, and they’re dishwasher safe. Plastic food containers make great storage for craft supplies. Yogurt cups make great plant pots. And the list goes on.

A friend and I were recently talking about how wonderful second-hand living is and she said I must be the goddess of second-hand living. I looked at her kids, and said that she definitely had me beat – she even has second-hand kids. She looked at her foster kids for a moment, lost in thought … then smiled and with a tear in her eye said, “Yeah, second hand kids are the best. And all they cost is love.” 

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