I began thrifting because it was fun and, quite frankly, I loved to shop. Okay, I still do. But, initially there was a deeper motivation for my need to haunt the secondhand shops that peppered my town … I was broke. I loved the fact that I could buy fabulous things for pennies on a dollar. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on the thrill of furnishing my homes or fashioning chic wardrobes found in thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops and auctions. I became a veteran power shopper, quickly falling in like with each venue I tested and every tarnished treasure I uncovered.
It wasn’t until much later that I began to realize I was actually recycling, inadvertently turning into a green queen rather than adding to the burgeoning problem of waste in America.
It began to occur to me that how we dispose of our used goods was critical to the overall health of our planet. Although we are encouraged to recycle our wastes, the truth of the matter is that this country still leads the world in the amount of trash that it produces.
I was astounded to learn that Americans generate over 200 million tons of garbage every year. That didn’t resonate until the EPA broke recycling figures down to the fact that each person produces about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day! Yikes, that got my attention.
I thought that our country was pulling its weight in the recycling movement, but a full 67% of our junk is still tossed into landfills, while only 17% is recycled and 16% is burned as an energy source.
What really blew my mind was how much of our resources consume every year. The average person, over a lifetime, will use up;
- 411 trees
- 900 wire hangers
- 43,000 cans of soda
- 3,895 paper cups
- 2,025 rolls of paper towels
- 15,334 plastic water bottles
- 18,306 shopping bags
- 12 shopping carts full of wrappers from candy bars!
Recycling is certainly the answer for those that are intent on the greening of America, but only 17% of our nation has yet to establish an effective way to dispose of their used goods. According to the Wise Geek, 35% of the total material filling up landfills is packaging;
- new product wrapping
- fast-food containers
- office paper
- disposable diapers
- Styrofoam inserts
- and plastic bags
A partial answer to the country’s recycling woes might be eased if more people proactively chose to purchase used goods from the wide variety of thrift venues that pepper our nation. Shopping for goods at these thrift outlets could all but alleviate the 67.9 pounds of used clothing each person tosses out every year. That individual number quickly adds up to a whopping 20 billion pounds of used clothing and textiles that make their way into our landfills yearly.
In the end it is up to us. Companies have little incentive to use recycled materials because it is expensive … a cost that is passed on to the consumer. It is simply cheaper for them to use new materials to make new products. Therefore, buying used clothing and household furnishings eliminates the time, energy, labor, and money that go into making new products.
In summation, buy less, buy used, reduce the amount of garbage we produce, chose items with less packaging, reuse what you have and donate items that are no longer needed.
Turning Garbage into Gold – http://www.solidwastemag.com/library/garbage.htm
Reassessing the History of U.S. Hazardous Waste Disposal Policy – http://www.fplc.edu/risk/Vol8/summer/Brown+.htm
Environmental Protection Agency – http://www.epa.gov
Start you own High Profit Thrift Store –http://startthriftstore.com/index.html
Wise Geek –http://www.wisegeek.com/s/recycle
Barb Tobias, America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva, is an admitted thrift-aholic. This veteran radio and TV personality has crisscrossed the nation in her search for thrift. She is a master at teaching people how to find deals, repurpose before they toss, and reconstruct the broken.
A professional speaker, author of Tossed & Found and entertainer, Barb’s passion has become her profession; sharing her cost-conscious secrets with the nation.
Visit her at www.ThriftTalkDiva.com.