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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

No More Take-n-Toss

by Rebecca Gorski

A wise woman once told me that “everything we need has already been created. And not only has it already been created, but it’s all right here within our own community.”

Think about it. All the clothes, shoes, furniture, strollers, exersaucers, coats, window coverings, dishes, appliances…they have ALL been created, and someone right here in your own community does not need it anymore.

With two growing children, a cat, a dog, and more chickens than I care to admit, the amount of “stuff” I encounter on a daily basis really gets me down. But how much “stuff” do we really need? As I approach life as a crazy rural mom, I find more and more that I need less and less. And I’m also finding that the things we do need, we can easily find from a friend whose outgrown or out-used that thing, a local thrift or consignment shop, or an online swapping site. If you could see the impact that this type of living has on the environment, would it be worth it to you?

In the past four years, I have made a major shift in our life. One that used to be, consume without a second thought, to one of a major non-consumer. I have shifted out buying habits so drastically, that I will not buy a new thing even if it is something I use in my everyday life and I cannot find a used one. It usually works out that I can, in fact, live without that everyday item until I find it, or it fades away from my ‘necessary items’ list. The main reason for this shift: my two little boys. At the very whisper of my first son’s existence in my womb, the stuff began to pore it, and I was constantly told of all the stuff I would need for the baby. If only I would have known how little you actually need.

I was lucky enough to have family members to hand me down most everything I needed, but not all people have that luxury. What we all DO have access to is the local consignment shops, sales, and thrift stores. And chances are, if you have kids, you probably know quite a few other people with kids. Just by knowing other people, you can meet a lot of your needs.

Children grow. They grow and grow, and grow. Their interests change, and their needs change. Quickly. Even if you can afford to buy new things all the time, why would you want to? The clothes are outgrown in a matter of months; the toys are broken or forgotten about; and the exersaucer soon finds its way to the overflowing storage area. Why store it? Get rid of it, give it to somebody else. Trade it for something you need.

There are groups all over our community organizing clothing swaps or stuff swaps. We have a huge consignment sale, Here We Grow Again, organized by a couple of creative ladies who saw the need to reuse all this stuff. You can get everything from maternity clothes to teenagers clothing, all under one roof, three times a year. there are over 35,000 items at these sales, and it is all stuff that people HERE do not need anymore! We have That’s Adorable for all those cute little things you need for your little ones,  Encore for yourself, Goodwill for everything, and many more stores, at which you can consign or donate your old stuff, or get “new to you” stuff.

In our society of Take-n-Toss cups, which actually exist, it pays to pay attention! Besides being a frugal option, recycling and reusing has a HUGE environmental effect on our planet. The less plastic we buy, the less oil we have to drill out of our natural resources and the less pollution we are creating. By purchasing used clothing or swapping with another family, we are not only saving millions of pounds of chemicals from being dumped on the cotton fields that make new t-shirts, we are also saying NO to the mistreatment of workers in foreign countries who are making all of these new things for us. We are not only learning new ways to be resourceful (which is ever important these days), we are also teaching our children the importance of thinking about their purchases, where they come from, what effects they have on the planet, and how all of those effect their own community.

Like any life style choice, this is one that I can see the benefits of starting early. My children are four and two. Do you think they care if their wooden marble track was given to us from a friend and not bought new at a mega-mart? Do they flinch when their fifth-time-around Nikes show up on their feet before they jump in the mud? Do they notice that all their books have that wonderful old dusty been-around-the-block smell? Nope. They just don’t. And the more we talk about the impact that all of these products have on our environment, the more they understand that we don’t actually need them. Before they have time to remember that they wanted a skateboard, someone somewhere has offered one to them. Or they want a scooter.

So tread lightly on our beautiful Mother Earth. We’ve only got one. And remember, it’s not so bad to take a couple steps where there are already footprints.

For more information on the detriments of our consumption: Videos to get you thinking about all the stuff in your kids’ lives:

Green Shopping

Encore 2420 London Rd., Eau Claire 715-833-2333

Savers 3015 E. Hamilton Ave., Eau Claire 715-835-8500

Goodwill 3605 Gateway Dr., Eau Claire 715-835-0532

That’s Adorable 129 N. Barstow St., Eau Claire 715-456-6180

Here We Grow Again Children’s Consignment Sale Every April, September and November;

My Best Friend’s Closet 715-855-8333 508 Water Street

Hope Gospel Mission Bargain Center 2511 W. Moholt Dr., Eau Claire 715 839-9498

Salvation Army 3310 Miller St., Eau Claire 715 839-7976

Bethesda 3178 London Rd., Eau Claire, WI 715-834-7875

Gently Used Treasures 11 E. Central St., Chippewa Falls 715-738-1230

Salvation Army 521 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls 715 726-1836

Goodwill 2500 Hils Ct., Menomonie 715-235-8488

Fair Mairs 200 Main St. E, Menomonie, WI 715-231-4077

Yours Mine & Ours Thrift Shop 1620 S. Main St., Rice Lake 715-234-1137

Goodwill 2850 College Dr., Rice Lake, WI 715-236-2566

St Vincent De Paul’s Thrift Store 2811 Pioneer Ave., Rice Lake 715-234-7003

Area Thrift Shop 699 E. Main St., Mondovi, WI 715-926-5268

Barron Food Pantry & Thrift Shop 55 S. 3rd St., Barron, WI 715-637-3499

The Ventures Unlimited Thrift and Gift Shoppe 1150 S. River St., Spooner, WI 715-635-6769

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