Buying used, Buy Nothing, and Amazon
Halloween is over, and - ready or not - the holidays are almost upon us. Which for many of us means - like it or not - shopping! Holiday decor and gifts galore… there’s lots to buy. Here are three ways to reduce your impact while you’re shopping in NCW.
“Pre-owned,” or even “pre-loved” sounds nicer than used, doesn’t it? No matter what you call it, there are some fun places to check out in the valley. You never now what gems you’ll find. If you spend much time along the Wenatchee Ave, you’re bound to see some great spots to check out. Two cute boutique-style shops are Spruce and Willow and Simply Unique, both on the Ave at 133 N and 201 S., respectively. Also the YWCA’s Thrift Store is at 231 N Wenatchee Ave. The Salvation Army's thrift store is currently closed while they look for a new location. Finally, if you’re into antiques, there’s the Antique Mall of Wenatchee (surprise! on the Ave), plus Apple Annie Antique Gallery and the Antique Mall at Cashmere. In Leavenworth, I’ve heard the Upper Valley MEND's Das Thrift Haus at 211 14th St offers some great finds.
If the only "used" thing you've ever bought was a car, now might be the time to venture in to one of these unique shops. In addition to saving money (and raw materials it takes to make a new product), you just might find a one-of-a-kind gift that delights a friend or family member this holiday season.
Buy Nothing Project
Take buying used one step further and you can buy… nothing? The Buy Nothing Project (BNP) actually originated out of Washington state, and now is an international movement on Facebook of giving and receiving freely. Sounds hippie, yes, but it’s actually also a very convenient way to re-home things you no longer need, score things for free, and meet your neighbors in the process. While it might not be the best venue for finding a specific gift you're looking for, it never hurts to ask if your neighbors have what you're trying to find.
The point of the BNP is that it’s hyper-local. There used to be one large group for Wenatchee; it’s now “sprouted” into several groups. This enables members to offer things or receive things, all for free, from people who live nearby. And yes, if you're looking for something specific, you can just ask! The founders hope that in the process, you’ll build relationships with your real life neighbors. I’m actually the volunteer administrator for the Sunnyslope / Monitor group, and I have really enjoyed being a part of it. I discovered Buy Nothing in my north Tacoma neighborhood before moving back to Wenatchee. Since joining, I've seen countless examples of people freely offering furniture, household items and clothes that they no longer have use for. But I've also seen neighbors offer homemade goodies, extra abundance from their garden, and even perfectly fine groceries that for one reason or another won't get eaten. I recently scored a nearly full tub of my favorite protein powder from a family up the road who weren't big fans of it. Here’s a list of local Buy Nothing groups if you’re not already a part of one (you must 21 or older and live within the group's boundaries to join):
Buy Nothing East Wenatchee (Includes Rock Island, Orondo, Waterville, & Badger Mt)
Buy Nothing Leavenworth (Includes Cashmere, Peshastin & Dryden)
Buy Nothing Chelan (Includes Manson, Chelan Falls, Ardenvoir & Entiat)
Why would a sustainability blog bring up shopping at Amazon? Well, because we all do it. Most of us, at least. I’m personally guilty of being a big online shopper, even though I know shopping locally is better for SO many reasons. I love reading reviews and making sure I'm getting the best deal. But, I’m trying to be better and opting for brick and mortar stores when possible.
Interestingly, Amazon recently announced that they’re starting to roll out “Amazon Day” shipping, where you get all your packages delivered on just one day each week. If you’re receiving multiple packages throughout the week, this at least helps reduce the number of boxes you're receiving, which should slightly reduce the carbon footprint of items getting to your house, while also reducing the amount of cardboard and other packaging it takes to get there. While Amazon Day shipping isn't available in the Wenatchee area yet, you can do this yourself by adding things to your cart and waiting to actually purchase till you have a box full of items, if you can wait.
But there’s another reason I bring up Amazon. It’s called Amazon Smile. It’s a way that Amazon gives back to non-profits, and it can benefit Sustainable Wenatchee! After you choose Sustainable Wenatchee as the beneficiary, you needn’t do anything more than type in smile.amazon.com each time you want to shop instead of just amazon.com. Then .5% of eligible purchases will be donated by Amazon to us! While it might not seem like much, it all adds up. Since shopping online is inevitable for many of us, at least it can benefit a local little non-profit!
How do you work to reduce your impact while shopping, during the holidays or any time of year? Do you have a favorite thrift shop that I didn't mention? Are you making an effort to shop local over shopping online? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.