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Second Hand Addiction

Another day at home.  What a treat!  Soon I will be home every day, but right now it still feels like a novelty.  And even with spending several hours out running the dogs and doing a few errands, I still feel like I got a tremendous amount done around the house.  This is largely because for the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky to have even a few minutes to do anything domestic, let alone hours.  To have an entire afternoon and evening to myself today felt like a week.

I spent most of my day catching up on the little things in life that make a difference, but that get put on a shelf because they aren’t quite important enough to make the A-list.  For example, polishing boots and shoes.  I’ve been wanting to do this for ages now, so tonight I sat down and polished every leather shoe or boot I have.  This included my winter boots now ready to be put into storage, my summer sandals, as well as my very dusty dress shoes.  They are now all dirt and scuff free, and shiny.  It’s amazing what a bit of polish and some elbow grease can do for your footwear.  I recently purchased two very nice pairs of boots at second hand stores, and they each now look brand new.  Both are expensive Italian brands, yet I paid less than $10 per pair.  It helped that I knew when looking at them in the store that I could easily fix them up.

I have become a second-hand store junky this last few weeks.  After months – no, years – of not being able to shop for new clothes, the floodgates have burst.  Now that I finally have figured out how to successfully shop second-hand, I find myself in stores like Talize and GoodWill at least once a week.  Going regularly is part of the trick.  You have to go frequently, carefully check through the racks, and buy what you find, when you find it.

In the last couple of months, I have replaced probably close to 50% of my wardrobe and now have clothes that reflect me a whole lot better.  I’ve changed a lot over the last couple of years, as has my taste in clothing.  I now find myself wearing strong, bold colours, glitz, print, heels, pattern, scarves and jewelry.  A far cry from the track pants and hiking boots I lived in for the past decade.  Now that I am feeling so much better, I feel an overwhelming desire to have this energy reflected in my appearance.  Don’t ask me to explain this – I can’t.  But all of a sudden, I’ve started to like to having fun with my wardrobe.

It feels somewhat contradictory that as I am struggling towards creating a more sustainable lifestyle, I am becoming apparently increasingly materialistic, at least in my appearance.  And buying all these new(-to-me) items is a strange sensation after so many years of shopping fasting.  But everything I am buying is second hand, and I have stuck quite rigidly to my ‘one-in-one-out’ rule.  When I say I have replaced a good chunk of my wardrobe, I mean it.  For every new item, something has gone to charity.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve donated more than I’ve brought home.  So there’s a net purging going on.

The more I shop at second-hand stores, the more I am astounded by how much people spend on buying stuff new.  For example, yesterday I stopped into one shop and bought: a made-in-Canada Root’s t-shirt, a 100% wool Hudson’s Bay Company doubly blanket, a pair of Italian leather boots, a large Pyrex baking dish with glass lid, and a lovely blue and white Royal Dolton serving pitcher (I’ve been watching for a nice little pitcher for sauces for months).  Every item was in new or nearly-new condition.  How much did I spend?  $22.  You read correctly: twenty-two dollars.

The other great thing about shopping at these stores is that there is no packaging. None, whatsoever!  They still automatically put stuff in plastic bags, but you can refuse that.  Or sometimes I take the plastic bag and then return it on my next trip with items for donation.  I do this mainly because I don’t have any plastic bags at home in which to put my discarded items.

As my roommate is moving out in a few weeks, I am currently on the hunt for a few specific items. Specifically, I need a telephone, an answering machine, and some kind of stereo system.  I am planning to find all three second-hand.  Electronics are a bit trickier than clothing, but if you don’t need the latest and greatest model (which I don’t) you can find just about anything you need if you are patient and check in often enough.

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