Gaia Grows: Sustainable Shopping

PHOTO FROM JUNKTOPIAVINTAGEMARKET.COM

 

Kathleen Miller
Gaia’s Farm and Gardens

Sustainable living, gardening, and farming is based on an understanding of ecosystems, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will last over time. Having a harmonious relationship with Gaia (Mother Earth) provides food for people enhances the natural environment upon which the community depends, makes efficient use of resources, and integrates natural cycles that sustain economic viability as well as enhances the quality of life for the community as a whole.

 

Antique, vintage, secondhand and thrift stores, garage and estate sales, and auctions have gained a lot in popularity over the last decade. Shopping second hand significantly reduces our impact on the environment and saves a lot of money.

Wearing secondhand clothes had been widely looked down upon for centuries, but now thrifting is actually a hip and fun hobby.  As a kid, my parents would take me to consignment shops, estate sales, and thrift stores on a regular basis.  I loved the eclectic and unique range of designer outfits and one of a kind trinkets I would discover. 

My mom and dad were the king and queen of the garage sale. They had an antique business and my mom loved to find old pieces of furniture that she would drag home and refinish in our garage and resell.  My father was a born collector, collecting everything from vintage baseball gloves to antique fishing poles. They held an annual garage sale every year since I was a child and we were always on the hunt for another great find.  

I remember my father hired a harpist to play at one of their famous garage sales. When I inquired why there was a lady with a harp in the driveway, he simply replied, “It is an Irish garage sale”.  I didn’t ask any more questions for that seemed a reasonable answer to me, cause we are Irish.  I loved the collection of friendly characters that we would meet along the way when we were treasure hunting or hosting a sale. They loved to compete with one another to see who had found the latest bargain.

One thing my father was so very skilled at was getting a good price. It was like he got a rush of dopamine off a good deal. It always brought out his beautiful Irish smile.  He would drag his latest score home for my mom to look over and give her approval.  The part he was so proud of was when he got it for a good price and she would glow with joy at his ability to manifest with such ease. Our house was always decorated with a variety of charming finds that my parents had found along their travels. Thrifting is recycling. Get creative and think outside the box when you shop secondhand and you can find one-of-a-kind pieces for your closet or your home. 

As a country, we throw away billions of tons of garbage each year that can be recycled or refurbished for some other use. When thrown away, our garbage sits in landfills for hundreds of years.  Sustainable shopping means you’ll be keeping more out of landfills and positively contributing to the decrease in waste.  Fewer resources used and wasted. 

It is a win-win for both Gaia (Mother Earth) and all her inhabitants. Sustainable shopping creates less pollution and reduces your carbon footprint.  It is a great feeling to score a vintage piece or secondhand jewel for a fraction of its original cost.  Secondhand items are often actually better quality than new ones. The longer it lasts, the longer it stays out of the landfill.  

Many thrift shops serve some charitable cause, whether it be job training and placement or funding a mission of some kind. Giving your money to local shops puts it right back into your local community. Upcycling is becoming more popular these days and with some imagination, a few coats of paint, and some new hardware, an old piece of furniture can get a new life as something new and unique.  

Upcycling is defined as the act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function.  In doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable, and beautiful than what it previously was. Upcycling is not the same as recycling. Recycling takes materials and breaks it down so that it can be remade into a new product.  An item ready for upcycling can be something you found at a garage sale or estate sale that you “upgrade” by fixing it up.  It is amazing what can be done with just a little time and imagination.  It is really not hard to be sustainable and this is one of my personal favorite ways to help Gaia (Mother Earth).