Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

A recycled post from The Conscious Shopper, who is on vacation.

My kids got Mary Poppins for Christmas, and I'm enjoying re-learning all the great songs and dances from that classic musical. I've also found myself quoting her to my children many times the past few days. In her wise words...

“For every task that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and snap, the job's a game.”

I've also been applying this mantra to my own life as I've tried harder and harder to be less consumeristic. In my own home, I'm safe, but as soon as I step out into the real world, I meet a thousand enticements to slide right back in to that spend, discard, spend, discard cycle.

For example, I went to the mall last November for the first time in several months, and suddenly I was intensely aware of how drab my clothes are, how my shoes are out of style, and how I have no cool jewelry. I was feeling a little despondent about my dowdy appearance and had the impulse to spend to my heart's desire to make myself feel better.

Instead, I came up with a compromise: I could buy myself new clothes whenever I wanted as long as they came from a thrift store.

Up to that point, I had never enjoyed thrift store shopping. But as I began visiting my thrift store on a weekly basis, I began to see the fun in it. It is a challenge to find good buys. And when I do find them, I feel a victorious high that I've never felt from a shopping spree at the mall.

If you're trying to live a low-impact lifestyle, it's easy to start feeling deprived, but if you find the fun in your new way of life, it becomes a game, and it can be amazingly rewarding.

Here are some more examples:
  • I am hooked on Craigslist. Why would I ever want to buy something new again when there are so many “like new” items on Craigslist? And like shopping at thrift stores, I see Craigslist as a challenge. I have a running list of things I want, and I check it regularly. I have to be patient until just the right item at just the right price comes along. But if I put in the effort, I reap some amazing rewards.
  • In my attempt to be more frugal and buy less, I've started seeing everything in a new light. Before buying something, I ask myself, “How could I improvise and use something I already have to do this job?” Before I throw something away, I ask myself, “Is there any way I could reuse this?” When I come up with a way to solve a problem using that method, I feel creative and satisfied.
  • Trying to support my local economy, I do a lot of shopping at the farmer's market. I hate going grocery shopping, but the farmer's market is fun every time. I only take one kid with me at a time, and we make it a date, giving me a chance to teach each child on an individual basis about where our food comes from. First Son always asks, “Momma, are these eggs from happy chickens?”
  • Sometimes if you're willing to be behind the times, you can reap some great benefits. For example, we still have a VCR. I can pick up old VHS tapes, like Mary Poppins, from the thrift store for a couple dollars. The videos are getting extra use instead of heading straight to the landfill, and we get to enjoy some classic old movies without waiting for them to be released from the Disney vault.
If you're feeling deprived in your non-consumer, green lifestyle, take a note from Mary Poppins. Make it a game, and you'll be surprised at how much fun it can be.


fearlesschef said...

excellent ideas! I myself need to try thrift store hunting for my own clothes... that may help me feel less dowdy as well!

I recently switched to formula from breastfeeding and was devastated by all the apparent waste from the cans... problem solved once I started thinking and used them as packaging for Christmas gifts. It was like a game and all the more fun for it!

Robj98168 said...

Why buy a a Tivo or a DVR when you got a VHS? Cant find blank tapes? well then cover the security tab of an old tape You don't watch anymore with a small piece of tape and you have a tape you can record on! Often VHS Movies from the thrift store are cheaper than blank VHS tapes so you keep one out of the landfill when you do this!

L.A. said...

I have found that I love adding a little something to either clothes that I already have or ones I find at a consignment or thrift shop.
New buttons, stitching, beads,etc...they all liven up clothes.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Rob - I had no idea you could do that. Thanks for the tip!

debra said...

at some point this summer i decided i wanted a pasta maker. i didn't want one made of plastic and i wasn't about to spend the money on a brand spanking new metal one so i watched and waited and, sure enough, my buddy craig listed exactly what i wanted for $30. roughly 1/3 of what i would have paid in the store. my friend craig has brought me rabbits for my garden, apple trees, chicks, bed linens and table cloths and all manner of things. i'm hoping in the spring he'll help me find some turkey chicks.

Daisy said...

I'm liking thrifting more and more each year. I bought my son's jeans thrift style because he had very poor fine motor skills; he could handle the button and zipper on a used pair of jeans, but new ones were too hard. Thrift to the rescue!


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