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Green shopping: Don't say 'eww,' to thrift stores

Current shopping: wasteful. The green alternative: repurposing.

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The global energy crisis is overwhelming, but Americans are looking for ways to make small changes that add up. We install solar panels, buy hybrid cars, and turn down the thermostat. Yet when it comes to everyday shopping, we are conditioned to buy more than we need, new things made halfway around the world.

Sometime within the last 100 years, we lost the power to dialogue with shopkeepers to define our own needs. Now, retailers "inform" us. This exact scenario was foretold by the wise Dr. Seuss in his book "The Lorax." He said, "A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need! … I'm figgering on biggering and biggering … turning MORE Truffula Trees in to Thneeds which everyone … needs!"

Everyone loves the Lorax, but as we read it to our children we sometimes fail to realize that we've been buying those Thneeds; hoodwinked by retailers mixing a Thneed with a need.

Our passive attitude toward consumer goods is becoming a major obstacle in conserving energy and those precious Truffula trees. It's not doing much for a healthy economy either. But exactly what are we to do when we're told that shopping is a patriotic activity?

There is an alternative to this wasteful paradigm, and its infrastructure is in place: thrift shopping.

It's already making a small difference, but it has the potential for a much bigger impact. The new product retail market has conditioned us for years to believe "if it's not new, it's eww!" We bought this notion hook, line, and sinker; and now we're caught in a net of product surplus and waste on top of a mountain of debt.


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