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circa 2010
Elena M. Michel, Msc.


Goodwill Hunting

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM

I try to avoid being stereotype as much as possible, but as an Italian-American woman who lives at home with mama, I do so love shopping! However, as an environmentalist, I am acutely aware of the embodied energy that the products in our stores accumulate. I certainly wouldn't like to promote a generational stereotype as a throw-away-culture.

Thrift store shopping is my remedy. Aside from the fact that we all love a good deal, my environmentalist guilt is minimalized:


  • Clothes  ~  Don't settle. If there are rips, stains, wear-and-tear, put it back on the rack. Don't bother with ill-fitting clothes unless you have the inclination to make alterations. I do enjoy sewing, and I have found some great vintage clothes perfect for slicing and dicing into new creations; some buy sweaters simply for the yarn to knit something new. Most thrift stores have a no return policy, so be prepared to visit the fitting room. 

  • Furniture  ~  Quality is key. Particle board and laminates must be in pristine condition as modifications are limited. Metals and solid wood are better quality. Thrift stores are perfect If you have the skillset or inclination to restore furniture; if not, ask yourself if a good cleaning will make the piece just right. Be choosey with shape, design, quality, and aesthetics.

  • Games/Toys  ~  Avoid board games and puzzles when all of the pieces cannot be accounted for or not in their original packaging. Avoid stuffed animals piled in big bins to avoid risk of bedbugs, allergens, and molds. Don't forget to sanitize before your kids play with their new-to-them toys.

  • Household  ~  I have found the most remarkable and unique vintage decor for my home at thrift stores. I have a particular weakness for quality made pottery; don't hesitate to use your smart phone to research a signature or stamp. A little bit of knowledge about identifying crystal verses glass, bone china verses ceramic, silver verses painted metal, or silk verses cotton. YouTube can be a quick resource to identify the differences. 

Don't like it... love it! Thrift store shopping is just like shopping anywhere else. What's your favorite thrift store find?


Categories: Recycle, Upcycle, Lifestyle

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