4 alternatives to buying new

In 2011 I’m taking on a “buy nothing new” challenge (check out my earlier post about this for more deets). Here are a few alternatives to buying new that I’m starting to appreciate more this year:

  1. Buy used. You can find virtually anything on sites like Kijiji, Craigslist and eBay (do you know of other good sites for this? Leave your suggestions in the comments below). Places like Value Village, Salvation Army and other second-hand/thrift stores are other great options. I bought my dining room set off of Kijiji for $150. I also managed to fit the entire table, legs, extension leaf, and 6 chairs (that don’t fold up or come apart in any way) into my Corolla. It was a packing miracle. Who said playing Tetris for hours on end was a waste of time?
  2. Borrow. Do you really need that circular saw that you’ll only ever use a couple times in your life? Odds are a neighbour or friend will have one you can borrow for the short time you’ll need it. Rediscovering your local library is another great borrowing treat (for books and even DVDs of recent movies and TV series). Organizing a book swap with your friends is a fun excuse for a get-together as well. Seriously, how many books do you have on your shelf that you’ll never touch again? Stop buying things you’ll only ever use once if you can just as easily borrow them. Speaking of which, I need to return that book I borrowed from Janele about 6 months ago (I’m a slow reader). There are of course exceptions to this rule – specifically when it comes to buying my book, Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments. 🙂
  3. Upcycle/Repurpose.  My aunt has an old-school bathtub that she’s painted red and uses as a planter for flowers outside. Very cool. Repurposing “junk” is a great way to reduce your consumption and also a great opportunity to get creative. Here are some great repurposing ideas I found on a website called re-nest.com. I haven’t done a lot of upcycling myself (my pickle-jar-turned-drinking-glass is one example), but I love the idea. Here are some other reuse ideas from an earlier blog post I wrote.
  4. Reduce. The best way to avoid having to buy new things is to eliminate the need for it in the first place. This principle hit home this past weekend as I was cleaning up around my apartment. My friend, Shane, is moving in later this month as my roommate so I’ve been rearranging all my crap to make more room. This meant emptying the second bedroom for him which was a great exercise in purging and organizing. It also meant clearing out space in the hallway cupboard where I keep my linens, towels, etc. Looking at the overstuffed shelves, my first thought was, “I’m going to need a bigger cupboard.” But then I gave my head a shake and took a hard look at what was on those shelves and realized that half of it was sheets and towels and pillowcases I’ve never used (and by the look of some of them, probably hadn’t been used since the ’70s). So I packed away the stuff I never use and donated them.

    Less is more (space that is).

What are some other buying new alternatives that you use? Leave your ideas in the comments below.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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6 Responses to 4 alternatives to buying new

  1. Janele says:

    You should also check out freecycle.org (http://groups.freecycle.org/freecyclewaterloo/description for the Waterloo site). I haven’t used it, but I’ve heard good things through my colleagues at work!

  2. Downtown 1 says:

    re: table, legs, extension leaf, and 6 chairs in a Corolla.

    Packing miracle? or Panamacking miracle?

  3. ronjaconstance says:

    If your grandparents are alive I would suggest going to them, I know mine has hundreds of things they havent used in forever, but that they’ve kept in case they would need it. Everything from clothes, to shoes, to furniture, and so on. I know Ive got a bunch of stuff looking through the things they never use anymore 🙂 also a friend of mine, I havent tried it yet, but it seems fun, anyway, she goes to abandoned houses looking for things there, most of the time the things are so old and worn that they cant be used, but she has found some things, For example a really pretty dining table! And I remember as a kid me and my granddad used to go to this place where they had a bunch of containers where people would throw away the stuff they didnt use anymore, and then you could go there to see if you wanted anything before they drove it away. And also if you have any friends or family that are planning on moving, you could ask them if they have anything they plan to throw away, most of the time they will, cause when you move you find all those things youve bought once upon a time but never got around to using.

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