Re-associating Recycling with Objects of Beauty and Value

The environment has always had a great importance to me from an early age I had role models such as Smoky the Bear and Woodsy the Owl, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!”  One of the most influential people in my life was my aunt Charlotte.  Her being a “Hippie” she taught me great ways to help the environment.  I still hold strong to those tips and use them in my daily life.  One of the ideals she taught me was ‘buying used rather than new’. This form of recycling helps the environment and can be quite a bit of fun in the process.

The waste management idea of buying used rather than new is a growing idea of recycling in many communities.  When I speak of waste management, I am talking about the packaging that newer items usually come wrapped in, like plastic wrap, cardboard boxes, and the dreaded Styrofoam.  According to the chapter Applying Social Psychology to the Environment (2012) “recognizing that a variety of environmental problems represent threats to environmental sustainability and that many problems have their roots in human behavior” (p. 306) shows that people’s habits are the initial problem.  Therefore, buying used not only helps to change people’s habits but also can save you money while keeping that money in your community.

First Monday Canton

First Monday Canton

The best places to shop secondhand are thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, antique shops, and the ever-growing flea markets; such as First Monday Canton (2013), that takes place in the town of Canton, Texas, takes up most of the town, and runs first Monday of every month.  This event established back in the 1850’s is still going strong today. You can buy everything from housewares to automobile parts and antiques.  Some of the local thrift stores actually donate to local organizations or employee disabled workers.  Shopping with thrift stores helps local economy and helps to reduce the waste that these outlets would use if they were selling new items.  Garage sales are tax-free and once again, you are buying used and saving money.  Estate sales and antique stores are a great place to find treasures or one-of-a-kind items without supporting mainstream industries that use natural resources to fuel their factories.

Windsor Chair

Windsor Chair

One of the growing ideas currently is that antiques are green.  The website Antiques are Green (2014), says “they help and advice to businesses and consumers on reducing their carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels and becoming greener.” On this website, they discuss how an antique chair, the Windsor chair that was made over a hundred years ago and was made by hand using no fossil fuel run machines can still be used today from any antique store rather than purchasing another chair from a big name department store chain. Therefore, someone could hand it down or sell it to another environmentally minded consumer continuing the cycle of waste management through the use idea of buying used rather than new.

ricks-boothI am an avid antique shopper and 98% of my home consists of antique furnishings and accessories, which is one of the largest contributions that I do to help the environment and lessen my carbon footprint in the world.  When seeking out items for my home the first places that I go are the local antique stores or the Dallas area antique stores to try and find what I am  needing otherwise I go to garage and estate sales for items regularly.  Fiske (2014) stated, “We need to dis-associate recycling from empty soda cans and bottles and re-associating it with objects of beauty and value.”


Antiques Are Green – Antiques Trade Association Promoting a Valuable Heritage Industry and Embracing Green and Ethical Issues. (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from

Applying Social Psychology to the Environment. (2012). In F. Schneider, J. Gruman, & L. Coutts (Eds.), Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

First Monday Canton. (2013, January 1). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from

Friske, J. (2014). Antiques are Green. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from

1 comment

  1. Rory Richard Rieger

    Thank you for your post. Although I did not see a firm applied social psychology theory in your post I found it very interesting. I never thought that my love of garage sales and flea markets could account as being environmentally friendly. I think this is a very cool approach to help the environment that people actually would enjoy to engage in. Good Job!

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