Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Buy New When You Can Trade?

A read an article some time ago about several families in San Francisco who decided to cut down on their consumption. They committed to each other that other than groceries, they would not buy any new items for a year. These were people with normal jobs, homes and kids, and they did this, not necessarily to be frugal, but they realized that much of what they had would end up in landfills eventually (I proposed this to my husband and he balked at me like I was going a tad too far with this frugal thing).

It got me thinking… how much stuff do we get rid of because we’ve outgrown the items or we’re simply bored of them? Is it really necessary for everything to be new or do we just buy new because it’s a little bit more convenient or perhaps because new stuff makes us feel good?

I thought back over some of my recent purchases. I could have picked up those new books at Amazon Used. I could have bought those toys at a local consignment store or had a toy exchange with some friends and my toddler wouldn’t have known the difference.

There are the obvious ways to avoid buying new – consignment stores and garage sales, but how about swapping? What a great way to shop that’s both frugal and environmentally friendly!

Freepeats allows parents to pick up gently-used baby, children, and maternity items for free from nearby parents who have finished with them. This organization currently has over 4500 members nationwide and well over 300 and growing in Atlanta. "Preparing for a baby's arrival is expensive," says founder Angie Wynne, "and so is raising one. Common estimates put the cost at $10,000 in the first year alone. And this is at a time when many families are trying to get by on one parent's income. At the same time, many of the expensive baby items parents spend their money on get used only for a very short time. There's still plenty of life left in them. If parents can find good-condition second-hand clothing, toys, and gear, they'll shave hundreds of dollars or more off that $10,000 total. Besides that, we'll keep usable items out of the landfills." Offerings have included bouncers, swings, cribs, infant formula, baby and toddler clothing, zoo tickets, diapers, strollers, high chairs, baby gyms, parenting books, toys, and more.

At Swaptree, you put together a list of books, cds, dvds, and video games that you want and then swap with people from all over the country for free. Swaptree will show you show you thousands of items that you could receive in trade for any item. So you don't spend time searching for potential trades, negotiating a trade with another user, or messing with point systems. Just list some items that you want to trade and Swaptree will show you everything you can get for them. All you have to do is pay the cost of media mail shipping (less than $2.50).

Freecycle’s mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills. They have almost 10,000 members in the Atlanta area and you can give and get all kinds of things.

I just checked Craigslist to see what I could pick up in my local area for free. Today I can get firewood, furniture, dirt, wallpaper, a tv, boxsprings, mulch, moving boxes and more. There’s even a lady over in Marietta offering free apples to anyone who wants to show up at her house and pick them off her tree! You can also barter your services at Craigslist. Hey, perhaps I can barter for a truck to get me some of that free mulch!

What are you considering buying new? What do you have lying around that you could trade? It’s worth thinking about.

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