5 Unexpected Thrift Store Finds

Sustainability

Since starting my No New Things Resolution for the year 2019, I’ve learned that I’ve needed to become quite resourceful in the things I buy second hand. To date, I’ve only purchased new toiletry/makeup items, a vacuum cleaner, and a hat from Nashville which was a reward to myself for doing so well so far. It’s felt pretty amazing to see not only all the money I’m saving, but to see all the things I’m able to find at the thrift store as well. Sure, some items have been challenging and have maybe taken a few trips to find, but overall has saved me probably hundreds of dollars in just under 6 months alone. In this post, I want to show you all the surprising things I’ve found in hopes of inspiring you to shop these types of items secondhand as well. The thrift store isn’t just for clothes!

Camping Items

Spring and Summer are the ultimate outdoor seasons – at least here in sunny California. My family participates in a week long full-family camping trip at the end of May every year, and every year it seems like there is something that needs to be purchased or replaced. This year, I went with the intention of finding some rain gear (which I’ll outline in another section), and what I was able to find was even better. Did you know the thrift store carries everything you need for camping from ice chests, to tents, to lanterns and chairs? Sure, you can get these items from the big box stores for fairly cheap, but how long do they really last? And spending the outrageous prices at the outdoor specific stores – forget it! You can get the same name brand items at the thrift store for much less. I’ve seen Coleman tents (be sure to check for all items inside the bag!), camping lanterns, TONS of folding chairs (again, open them all the way to make sure they are functional), camp stoves and of course you can stock up on all of your outdoor cookware. You can find all of these things for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store, and usually you can find much cooler looking items too. My recent find was a very cool fish cutting board (I don’t know what else to call it). It’s basically a fillet board with a big clamp on one end. This clamp holds the fish tail in place so you can fillet the meat or remove the bones – so cool, right? We fish a bunch when we camp so it was awesome to find such a specific piece and be able to bring it home for only a few bucks.

I also found this awesome crate full of cast iron cookware. It was super heavy duty and unique! The cast irons even came with zip-up covers! Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with cast iron and it was $40 (they knew what they had here!) so I had to leave it behind, but I just know that someone else was so stoked to find that. I’ve also scored ice chests in the past. My favorite of our ice chests is actually a vintage Coleman ice chest. it’s fairly small but is in this really cute olive green color and has a great sturdy drain on the bottom. I found it on a half off sale day and paid only $2.50 for it. The other is a rolling igloo ice chest that we had contemplated purchasing at Costco for $40, but ended up finding at the thrift store for only $13. You may have to dig a little more in these sections to find the good stuff, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt just as much as the excitement of finding a good deal.

Outdoor Clothing

This goes along with camping (sort of), but I think can also use it’s own section – outdoor clothing. This year before camping we knew it might rain a bit. Instead of slushing around in sweatshirts and jeans, my husband came up with the great idea of looking for some lightweight rain gear to go over our clothes. Off to the thrift store I went and what I found did not disappoint. I was able to score a Jones New York rain coat and a pair of waterproof North Face pants for me (Yes! North Face!) and some Columbia water proof pants and a couple vintage waterproof overcoats for my husband. It all ended up being around $25 which is much, much less than what we would have paid for these brands in the store. Among rain gear I found snow suits, scuba suits, hiking boots, rain boots, snow boots, ponchos, trench coats, snow coats, rash guards, swim trunks and pretty much anything else you would need for any type of outdoor weather. Not only that but hello, bathing suit section. Now, years ago I would have passed over this section, but as I’ve gotten older (and maybe more desperate for a deal), I’ve actually found some amazing suits at the thrift store. My most recent being a sport suit made by Body Glove. It has short bottoms and a zip up style tank top. This may seem gross, but if you just check the crotch area for stains, you can always wash the crap out of these items to make sure you’re not getting any heebie jeebies. Also, sometimes people donate BRAND NEW and NAME BRAND items (hello, VS!), so it’s always worth a look. Make sure to check everything for holes and stains of course, but the savings you could score are endless.

Random Kitchen Gadgets

Trying out a year of not buying new seemed so daunting in the beginning. Especially when I realized that my can opener had broken. You know that annoying things can openers do when you turn and turn and turn but it doesn’t actually break open the can?? SO FRUSTRATING. This happened to me at the end of January. I didn’t want to break my rules so quickly by buying a brand new can opener so I searched the aisles of Goodwill. What I ended up finding was a Kitchenaid can opener for $3 – say wha? This particular can opener sells for $13 on Amazon so that’s an automatic savings of $10, plus I saved a can opener from potentially going to the landfill to sit and stew for hundreds of years. Other cool gadgets I’ve found include a lime press – which is actually vintage, completely metal and amazing – an all-metal ice cream scooper, a stainless fondue set, barbecue tools and so much more. Some of my favorite finds have also been a bullet blender (which I actually ended up using so much I burnt the motor out – oops), a vintage bundt cake pan and several matching marble items including a salt and pepper shaker set, a marble tray with a cloche top and marble coasters.

Seriously, the possibilities are endless here. Currently on my thrift list are silicon inserts for my instant pot, a microplane grater, and a lemon press (as the lime press is a little small for lemons). I have no doubt that I’ll eventually find these items and end up paying much less for them than I would if they were brand spankin’ new. Also check these aisles for party-ware. These are less used kitchen items you can often find at the thrift store. I’ve found adorable mason jar style drink dispensers, cake pedestals and sometimes even decorations. It may seem random, but eventually we spend money on stuff like this, so wouldn’t it be better to spend less?

Pet Supplies

We have three dogs and two cats so sometimes replacing bowls, brushes and leashes can get pricey. Luckily, we can find all of these things at the thrift store. Usually the pet items are grouped together in an area, but sometimes we find great metal bowls for food and water in the kitchen area too. We’ve also purchased brand new collars and leashes at the thrift store which is great because when we had a puppy she grew out of stuff so quickly! I’ve also found unopened boxes of dog poop bags which are great for camping and for walks – I think I paid around $.50! Sometimes you can even find unopened cat scratchers and cat toys for only a couple dollars. We don’t typically buy toys for our dogs at the thrift store unless they are in brand new condition. We just don’t want to take the chance that another dog may have played with them and transmit any sickness or icky germs. Our animals are like our children so that’s how we approach that – like psycho over protective parents haha. But it is great to be able to find bowls and things that would cost much more at the pet supply store.

Yard Games

Lastly, one of the surprising things you can find at the thrift store are yard games. Things like dart boards, croquet sets and even golf clubs usually get donated fairly often. I recently found a brand new croquet set that had never been opened for only $12 – it still had the original price tag at $39.99. My husband has found a brand new dart board, which is still hanging and getting use in our garage and we often see loads of golf clubs and tennis rackets as well. Sometimes you can even find cool homemade game sets like ladder ball – which I’ve never played, but it looks like it could be fun! Currently on my thrift list are bocce balls and a cornhole set, and while a cornhole set may be more difficult to plunder, I’m hoping to run across some bocce balls soon. This section can get a little crazy and require some digging as well. It’s almost like the better items hide in the back, or someone is hiding them in the back, so be sure to take a good look before giving up.

Overall, I obviously love thrifting. I love it even more now that I’m restricting and forcing myself to only buy second hand. It’s really opened my eyes to the possibility of what I can find. It’s always helpful to keep a list of things you need so that you can stay focused. You may not always find everything on your list in one trip, but it can also be encouraging to check things off as you go.

I want to hear from you! Have you ever found anything super unexpected at your local thrift store? If you did, what did you find and how big of a score was it when you found it?

Until next time,

MelissaRose

6 Easy Swaps for Sustainable Living

Sustainability

When living sustainability first hit the blogosphere, it seemed like it might be some kind of fad. People started toting around reusable grocery bags, and companies began advertising their use of less packaging. But sustainability isn’t just a trend – it’s here to stay. More and more people are catching on. We’re becoming more aware of the effects that everyday items that once seemed harmless are having on our planet and it’s vast ecosystems. Some of the changes can feel daunting. It can feel like we don’t have the time, energy or money to make the changes we so desperately want to make. However, I’ve learned that there are some small changes we can all implement without too much effort that can make real differences. These are my top 5 now 6! easy swaps for sustainability and how you can implement them into your life without breaking the bank, ruining your routine or causing unwanted stress in your already busy and stressful life.

1.Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable grocery bags are one of the first things I can remember seeing pop up on the market that promoted more sustainable living. Grocery stores everywhere started offering their own branded versions of totes and bags that you could purchase for relatively low costs and reuse time and time again on shopping trips. In California, where I’m from, plastic bags were banned altogether; however, instead of them being completely banned, these even thicker plastic bags started making their way into markets. The thicker plastic bags cost around $.10-$.15 per bag, but didn’t seem to be any less destructive than their lighter plastic counterparts. Not only that, but people who weren’t bringing bags had no quarrel with purchasing a couple of these bags and loading them to the brim with all they could fit, trying to save that next ten or fifteen cent purchase. This doesn’t have to be a difficult switch. In fact, there are several reusable bag options that you can try that cost no money at all. If you’re like me, you’ve been saving your old grocery bags since the dawn of time. You can bring these into the grocery store to reuse. I even have a ton of the smaller produce bags that I take with me to the grocery store as well as the farmers market (admittedly, they also work great as dog poop bags). Another free option is to create your own tote bags out of old t-shirts. Instructables.com has a great tutorial on this, and if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can always cut and tie the bottom of the bag as well. Another option I’ve used quite often for quick trips is just using a large purse. Really anything that you use to carry things in will work – tote bags, purses, backpacks, homemade bags, baskets, cardboard boxes, you name it – if it will hold things it will hold groceries. Want to use reusable bags, but always forget them? Keep a stash in your car. Having bags on hand at all times will make it more difficult to forget grabbing them at all.

2. Reusable Water Bottle

I used to buy Smart Waters at the gas station pretty regularly. I’d buy so many that my car was filled with plastic bottles, sometimes not even fully emptied (such a waste!). Once I realized how much I was wasting (and learning more about sustainability), I knew I needed to make a change. There is a serious water bottle crisis happening on our planet. According to this article from The Guardian, there are 1 million plastic bottles purchased every minute. This influx of plastic, although fully recyclable, has overarched our ability to process it all. There is just too much to handle. If you lined up all the plastic bottles purchased in 2016 alone, they would reach half way to the sun. THIS IS CRAZY. Enter: The reusable water bottle. My reusable water bottle of choice is a 24 oz ThermoFlask stainless steel water bottle. You can purchase a two-pack for around $35 from Amazon (they also sell them at Costco). When you add up all the money you spend on water bottles (if you were like me), you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ll save by switching to something more sustainable. Not only that, but I find that I drink more water, waste less water and I’m no longer contributing to the plastic water bottle crisis that is occurring in our day and age. A perfect accompaniment to your new reusable water bottle, is a filter pitcher. This ensures you have bottle-ready quality water to drink (at a fraction of the cost), but also ensures you aren’t contributing to what is already a crisis of epic proportions.

3. Bring Cutlery From Home

If you’ve read any other part of my blog, you know that I very much enjoy cooking and meal prepping. I love being able to bring homemade lunches to work. Not only does this save me time and money, but it makes me feel better throughout the day. Not only that, but the less fast food I purchase, the less I contribute to the use of single-serve plastic cutlery, containers and other utensils. But up until recently, I was eating my lunch at work and realized that I am still using the single-serve plastic cutlery that my workplace provides. This is an exceptionally easy switch, because it does not cost any extra money, it simply requires you pack utensils from home in your lunch. A typical set for me is a spoon for breakfast and a fork for lunch. I pack them in my lunch bag, use them at work then bring them home to be washed. I think what I’ll eventually do is buy a set of utensils from the thrift store and bring them to work to stay. I can wash and use them at work and stop using the single-serve options that seem so convenient. Truth be told, I think food actually tastes better with real utensils! I’ve also seen people do this on the go so that if they end up eating out somewhere they have their own utensils on hand.

4. Thrift, Thrift. Thrift

Again, if you’ve read any other part of my blog, you know that I’m huge into thrifting. Thrifting is the one thing I’ve been doing pretty much me entire life that I didn’t even realize was sustainable. It’s sustainable because instead of purchasing new things, you are recycling pre-owned items and saving them from the landfill. Truth be told, most of my house is furnished with things from the thrift store and most of the items in my closet are thrifted as well. Not only is it sustainable, it’s a great way to save money. You can find pretty much anything at the thrift store, especially if you’re patient, and I regularly find things that are brand new at a fraction of the price they would normally be. For more tips about what to look for at the thrift store visit my post here.

5. Dryer Balls vs Dryer Sheets

Dryer balls are a great way to live more sustainably in that they cut down on waste as well as save you money. Dryer sheets can add up in cost, but with dryer balls, you buy one set and reuse them over and over. Certain sets allow you to add essential oils for an extra scent and others can even attract lint (for those of us with pets, this is a lifesaver!). My favorite set comes from Grove Collaborative (click here for a referral link).  You can buy them alone or purchase them with a bottle of essential oil. (PS. Grove has alot of other great sustainable options for cleaning supplies and other home items – be sure to use the referral link above for your FREE set of cleaning items). I love my dryer balls because they make it so that the clothes dry faster (less energy) while also helping to reduce lint and static from my laundry. I definitely recommend checking these out.

6. Reuse Your Ziploc Bags

Sometimes, trying to be more sustainable can cost money. All of the new reusable snack bags, beeswax food wrappers, fabric produce bags – sure they all look great on your Instagram, but sometimes it’s just not practical to go out and spend a bunch of money on your newfound values. Plus, I know when I started trying to make small changes to my life, I still had alot of things I wasn’t ready to give up yet, or maybe ever. One of these things is Ziploc bags. I know, I know… They’re plastic, single use and get thrown out super quick thus adding to the overall problem. But this got me thinking, I already have a giant Costco sized pack of bags (it’s just me and my husband in the house, so buying in bulk makes things last forever). I don’t want to just toss them out and then spend even more money to buy new alternatives. I did some research online about the materials and makings of these little zipper pouches. Did you know you can wash them and reuse them? Yup. Thus making the Ziploc bag reusable. There’s a couple different ways you can wash them depending on your preference and time. The first is to hand wash. You simply flip the bag inside out, wash and set on a rack to dry. Make sure the bag is open and standing on top of it’s zipper when it’s drying so that the inside (which is actually the outside) dries completely. Another method that I was super surprised even worked is the top rack on your dishwasher. I prefer to hand wash since this can take up alot of space on your top rack, but it is a faster and easier solution if you’re in a rush. Simply do that same thing and flip the bag inside out. Place on the top rack of your dishwasher. I liked to use heavier glasses and things around the bags so they don’t end up flying around inside the washer. You can run a normal cycle with a dry cycle and voila! Resuable Ziploc bags. This is a great trick, and instead of spending money to buy those fancy velcroed snack bags you’ve been eyeing, you’re saving money instead.

So these are my main easy swaps for living a more sustainable life. Each of them are easy to switch and are either free, low cost or will end up saving you money in the long run. There are a bunch of other less easy swaps that I may write about later on, so let me know if you’re interested in those as well! I should also note that this post is not sponsored in any way. I link products that I enjoy using as a recommendation to you. I purchased these with my own money after doing my own research and have been very happy with the results. Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions!

How do you try and live a more sustainable life? Do you find some things are easier than others? Are you more likely to make a swap if it doesn’t effect your current routine or spending habits?

MelissaRose