Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reuse again... and again

I love second-hand shopping for numerous reasons, including the inexpensive prices, the ability to obtain higher quality goods that I could afford if they were new, and the fact that it's great for the environment.

For example, due to thrift shopping, my daughter received more gifts from her father and me than we could have privided her if we were buying new. We gave her a set of roller skates, a bigger bike, a boy Barbie, a dress, several cute tops and pants, and a Christmas teddy bear, all in excellent condition, for about $50 total.

Some object, however, that the second-hand market isn't practical for society at large since it always requires a first-hand market. That's true, but the complaint usually assumes a one-to-one relationship between the first-hand and second-hand market for each item. In other words, someone buys something new and donates or passes it on, then someone else gets it second-hand. Once the second person has finished with the item, that's the end of its life cycle.

Many items, however, can have multiple life cycles as long as they're still in good condition. Well-made, durable items like bikes and children's clothing (since kids tend to outgrow things quickly) can be passed on multiple times to multiple users before they're no longer in good condition.

Here's a good example: I purchased my daughter's old bike $8 from a thrift store two years ago. She has recently outgrown the bike and we found a larger one, in great condition, for $10 at Goodwill. It's very possible that either bike had multiple users (say, an older and younger sibling) before being donated and purchased by us.

One of my daughter's friends, two years older, also got a new bike for Christmas. Her mom and I planned at first to pass on both old bikes to younger children, but they were too big for the younger children we knew.

So I came up with an even better plan for passing on the two bikes. I had a meeting in Olympia today and had to pass through Lacey, where Alaffia, my favorite natural body care company, is based. Alaffia has a project, Bicycles for Education, in which they collect bikes from Washington residents to ship to Alaffia's founder's home country of Togo. These bikes make transportation to and from distant schools possible for many rural children who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend.

I dropped off both bikes at Alaffia's headquarters today and was able to have a follow-up conversation with them about hosting a bike drive at Marlene's Natural Market in Tacoma (which will take place in June). So you see, many items can be used not once, not twice, but again and again and again, for older children, younger children, and children across the world!

1 comment:

  1. That's such a great use for the bikes! I'd heard that bikes were really practical in many other countries, but I didn't realize there were bike drives.