One's Trash, Another's Treasure

Last week my colleague, Rene Ebersole, blogged about "greening" her house with salvaged materials, such as French doors resurrected from the castoffs of a yacht club. To build on Rene's post, I'd like to make a hearty recommendation to patronize your local thrift store--particularly those associated with non-profit organizations.

As a former coordinator of the Habitat for Humanity re-sale center in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida, I quickly discovered that a thrift store is a veritable mine of useful gems. I excavated my store daily, which not only satiated my shopping appetite, but also saved me bucks and the landfill space. Further, the money we made off the sale of goods--which were donated to the store--was reinvested into Habitat to build homes in partnership with low-income families. I think this qualifies as a "win-win" situation.

There are a number of non-profit organizations that operate similar re-sale centers, among them Goodwill and The Salvation Army. These stores generally sell anything from building supplies and appliances to housewares, clothing, and books. There are also some well-stocked for-profit thrift stores, like the Buffalo Exchange and Plato's Closet, which sell both new and used clothing and accessories. I've found designer denim jeans that fit like a glove at both of the latter.

When I moved to New York, I lived for about a year without a dresser until the annoyance of sifting through a suitcase finally got the best of me. Where did I go to purchase my bureau? You got it--a used furniture warehouse just down the road from my apartment. There I found a six-drawer, French-style dresser in nearly perfect condition for 60 bucks. I wheeled it up the street on a dolly, saving myself more money in delivery charges and gas. Plus, I got exercise--and bystanders got a good laugh.

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