--a suburban greenmom and her family go shopping...down the block...and around the corner...and up the next block...
We had an awesome weekend.
Every year in early June our entire subdivision has a “multi-family garage sale”—anyone in the whole area with stuff to sell all does it on the same day, there are ads in the local papers and maps of all the houses involved and what they are selling, and it’s just a grand and wonderful day for all. I’d say maybe 20-30 houses in our little area were part of it.
So far our family hasn’t been one of those who sells stuff out of our own garage; we had a couple of little things that our neighbor across the street agreed to let us put over there. But we walked around the whole neighborhood for a couple of hours checking out what everyone had out there. Everyone found a treasure or two: my daughter’s ballet slippers are getting too tight, but down the block is a little girl with bigger feet than hers with an almost perfect pair of slippers. One dollar. One pair of slippers that won’t go into a landfill; one pair of slippers that won’t require new raw materials to be produced. I found, at long last, an older slow cooker that hopefully was made before they decided that slow cookers shouldn’t cook quite as slowly as they used to, thereby ruining all the old recipes and destroying the most wonderful aspect of slow cooking. And if it’s not old enough—I have a crockpot in a size I didn’t have before. For $5, as long as it works, how can I go wrong? (Um…yes, I have four crockpots now. A 4-quart, a 5-quart, and a 6-quart, and now a 2-quart. And yes, I really do use them all.)
It was a great neighborhood morning, and a great family morning. After reading different musings about children and learning money skills and allowance vs. payment for jobs, we took this as an opportunity to do a little teaching about money. Each child got to take $5 in quarters from their piggy banks and told that they could buy what they wanted, but that that was all the money they had; they could decide what they wanted to buy, it was their choice, and we wouldn’t make the decisions for them. It was a really fun and interesting process. It took them a while to realize we were serious and to stop asking, “Mom, can we get this?” about whatever it was…the answer was always, “It’s your money, you can get whatever you’d like, just decide for yourself whether it’s worth that amount of money to you.” They each wound up with a few stuffed animals that they really liked, and my daughter got a pair of purple flip flops. (I didn’t make her pay for the ballet slippers; that’s mommy’s department.) It was really cool seeing them start to really think about what their money was worth, and how much they wanted whatever it was, whether they could afford it, and more important whether they chose to. Each of them came home with money still in their pockets, and they seemed supremely pleased with their choices.
It was wonderful seeing this low-cost exchange of goods, as people cleaned out their basements, sat outside and visited and chatted and had fun and found that something someone else was desperate to get rid of was exactly what another person was looking for. Lots of stuff kept out of the landfill, at least for now. Maybe a little less new stuff manufactured. New families finding baby goods; the people selling the baby goods finding some great toddler gear at another house. And so on, up and down the line.
I wonder, if every neighborhood did something like this, even not as complicated as a Freecycle (which itself isn’t that complicated!)—how many resources would we save? And how much would we gain, learning more about the people who live near us, becoming more and more of a community, keeping an eye out for each other?
How about you, Booth readers—do your communities do anything like this?
--Jenn the Greenmom