Green Living: Ways To Recycle And Buy Used

by Stacey Doyle on 2009-09-0116

I love buying used — the idea of getting a good deal for a gently used item that looks almost new is something I find pretty satisfying. I offer some great tips on how to live green, recycle and buy used.

Used is definitely better in many instances: buy used and you buy cheap, and instead of throwing useful items away, you can resell them for some pocket money. And on top of it all, we’re able to promote a cleaner environment. Many used items are not only much more affordable, they are also equally reliable and carry their own unique, charming history.

Green Living: 6 Ways To Recycle And Buy Used!

I’d like to suggest a few ways we can explore buying used and participating in recycling efforts.

#1 Have You Checked Out Freecycle?

If you’re looking for something specific, you may be able to find it at, right in your own neighborhood. Freecycle is a network that encourages recycling by allowing people to find and give away stuff for free. It’s broken into local groups so you only deal with people in your vicinity, thus making it pretty convenient. The website started on a small scale in Arizona in 2003 and now serves over 75 countries with different groups. Besides getting what you need for nothing, you don’t have to pay to dispose of the stuff you want to unload. Just list your old items on Freecycle and appreciate the joy of giving and receiving; nothing is wasted and tons of useful items are kept out of landfills!

green living, buy used
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#2 Bequeath Heirlooms Across Generations

In days gone by, family heirlooms were cherished for generations. I never had the pleasure of meeting my grandmother on my mom’s side because she passed away right before I was born, but she left behind a beautiful silver marcasite pin I treasure and only wear on very special occasions. Recently I wore the pin to my cousin’s wedding and it brought tears to my mom’s eyes. Items like these are priceless. I think this blog entry brings the point home with regards to the deeper value of used items.

If you don’t have heirlooms from your family, there are plenty of thrift shops offering gently used items with an interesting background. From a hand-carved rocking chair to a feather boa, you just don’t know what exciting treasures you’ll find! Where to look for such items?

  • The Salvation Army and other thrift shops that charge low prices for quality items with the proceeds going to good causes;
  • Garage sales where hidden delights are always a possibility;
  • The classified section of your local newspapers: you never know what someone has to offer;
  • Craigslist and eBay offer a variety of unique items;
  • Local churches and community organizations: no need to be a member in most cases;
  • Estate sales for high end, gently used furniture and household accessories; and
  • Secondhand shops and antique stores with a down-home vibe (not those pricey, posh ones).

#3 Make A Used Car Purchase

We’re all for saving money and the environment by purchasing used vehicles. Buying a lightly used car can save you thousands of dollars within the first five years of ownership. You can shop around for secondhand automobiles at new car dealers, used car dealers, auctions and the classified ads.

While we all know that a car loses its value as soon as you drive it out of the showroom, many of us still feel compelled to buy a new vehicle — just check this article on popular reasons to buy new. But maybe this Consumer Reports study can convince you otherwise: they report that buying a V6 2005 Toyota Camry can save you around $13,000 over five years compared to buying the 2008 model. Those are some significant savings!

Edmunds reports that buying a used car is the most cost-conscious strategy, followed by leasing a car. It’s something to think about the next time you’re shopping for a new vehicle. Check out these stories for more ideas:

#4 Get High End Fashions For Less

If you love high end fashion lines like I do but hate the price tags, check out estate sales and thrift shops. Unbelievable designer finds could be lurking in someone’s racks: just imagine a Coach tote bag, an Irish cashmere sweater with a detachable fur collar and sparkling buttons, and a silk designer dress in a ravishing shade of purple! It involves plenty of hunting but it’s well worth it when you get a fashion find for $10 when you know its original price is around $200. This is a great approach for women with office jobs, especially for those who find that their paychecks don’t quite allow them to “look the part” at work.

With the higher cost of living that we face, many women find that they must return to work to cover their family expenses. They may find themselves without the proper clothes for job interviews. helps women across the nation by giving them an interview suit and additional suits for work when they land a job. Check them out if you’re interested in getting and donating suits, or shop online at to order low cost fashion items.

#5 Go For Used Furniture

I enjoy online shopping at Craigslist; I’ve seen lots of great selections for used furniture here. My used Italian leather sofa was a mere $300 compared to the $1,500 my friend spent on hers. Who knows, you may even luck out like I did, when I got my sofa in a custom “rose beige” color instead of the generic black my friend settled for.

#6 Check Out Cheap Entertainment!

Books, musical instruments, CDs and small electronics are also cheaper to buy used. Often, these items are shared, tossed or given away anyway, so buying them used makes sense. Books, radios and CDs can easily be found for pennies at garage sales and charity flea markets. Small electronics such as radios and MP3 players often cost only a few bucks, making them worth the entertainment investment. Check out this article on great places to earn and save money on used items for more tips!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Francis September 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm

I salute you for encouraging recycling and saving our Mother Earth. I’m a GreenPeace Volunteer and very much into buying used or second hand items as well, for as long as the items are still usable. Way to go girl. Keep it up!

kosmo @ The Casual Observer September 2, 2009 at 6:18 am

I buy a lot of my books and CD from I even have my wife buy from it when she is buying gifts for me (books are often on my lists).

Within a couple of months of release, hardcover books drop to just a few dollars – even for well known authors.

I break this rule for a couple of authors, but stick tight to it for everyone else. The items are almost always in perfect condition.

Goran Web Design September 2, 2009 at 6:52 am

The savings one can incur by re-using, reducing & recycling is actually unbelievable. Now when you start looking at motor vehicles, and the loss of value when you drive a brand new automobile off the showroom floor, it just becomes ridiculous. Buying new just doesn’t make sense, especially in todays world where vehicles get rotated regularly.

Bret September 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Craigslist is awesome for saving money on big-ticket items.

I got a great deal on a sectional sofa and am looking for a dining set. It’s crazy to pay so much money for new cars and furniture, when you can get them for a fraction of the cost used.

jill September 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm

A lady in my Sunday School Class always wears really cute clothes. Her clothes look very up to date, are in good condition and she buys them for practically nothing a garage and estate sales and thrift stores. She and her husband, who is a college professor, spend Saturday morning on their bikes going to garage and estates sales. It amazes me that she is such a snappy dresser for so little cost.

basicmoneytips September 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

Good post, I firmly believe in the whole used car concept, although it has been tempting to get a new car with all the deals floating around.

I also use Craigslist a lot, more for selling than buying. I find an old item, list it, and it usually sells within a day or 2. Usually if I buy, I check EBAY or half

I hope more people consider options like the ones you have listed, its always nice to keep a little more money in your pocket.


Tim September 3, 2009 at 11:42 am

would you say that about a used crushed velvet suit?

Save Money Hound September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Thanks for the recycle and buy used tips. Free cycle is a great idea and seems to have really taken off. All your tips will help people save money and assist with making some wise spending choices.

Meaghan September 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Great post! I think shopping at Craigslist is a wonderful way to save money and keep usable items from being tossed in the dump.

John Skoob October 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I love to buy used books as Kosmo stated you can get them at a fraction of the cost! If I ever have books that are damaged or obsolete I recycle them. Go to this website to find out more

Jessica J. Bartell January 11, 2010 at 4:55 am

Its a great idea! I really appreciate your eagerness about conserving nature and save the world from hazards pollutants. Your post will certainly create awareness to all people in the world..

Sara August 27, 2010 at 4:10 am

Good collection of information on recycling….

Richard September 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm

The six examples are great and should be a real eye opener for many. However, there are other things you can do: Buy a second hand computer for your kids at school (they’re usually recycled computers!), Amazon sells second hand video games, saving a small fortune in the process and all those CD / DVDs from the dump. In the UK, you can also buy compost from recycling companies – last year it would have been your food waste!

Ana October 4, 2010 at 1:03 am

I am particularly happy that you mentioned the utility of using second-hand or used furniture. It seems that most homeowners don’t understand the fact that with the most minimal of repairing or just polishing, the most aged of furniture items too can be re-sued as they look like new and this is a great way to save your carbon footprints since furniture items are a direct source of deforestation.

Noel May 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

There is a difference between recycling and re-using. The latter is more desirable as it produces less wastage than the first. However, recycling is great and is one way of doing our part as inhabitants of the planet. In recent times for example, the concept of e-waste has surfaced. Most of use take it for granted but e-waste or those electronic products disposed by their owners poses great danger to us all. Computers is one of them, and I would also like to commend some people for taking the initiative to turn things around and even make it a source of income. Check out

Ann October 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Hi Stacey,
Awesome article. I’ve bought used forever. And, like you I often luck upon a treasure here and there. I’ve found true Flea Markets to be fantastic for furniture and children’s clothing. Keep up the recycling efforts! Thanks for sharing.

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