Everyday Environmentalist

Using Used

Go green by recycling the unused. Your old stuff could be someone's new exciting item.

"Most stuff spends 99 percent of its life sitting around waiting to be used."

Hank Green, blogger

By Hank Green

When The Nature Conservancy asked me how I go green personally, I was surprisingly stumped.

But then I realized that my greenest habit is born of thrift, not conscience. I'm tired of the clutter and cost of new stuff — so I've joined in an old economy, one that doesn't require new resources:

  • Instead of buying a CD that's seen two countries and 14 states in production and shipping before it ever hits my stereo, I buy used CDs or, failing that, buy music on iTunes.
  • The local used bookstore has more amazing novels than I could ever imagine. 
  • And my (small-town) Freecycle forum and Craigslist offerings constantly show that people are willing to give away (or sell for cheap) the stuff that just clutters their basement and could be improving my life.

Even better, Craigslist, Freecycle and the used bookstore have all swallowed hundreds of pounds of my used stuff. My dead laptop's RAM, my dead fish's aquarium, my dead knee's snowboard…all servicing good people who's laptops, fish and knees are still operational. And don't get me started on the bookstore. I have so much store credit that I should probably own stock in the company.

It all comes down to the fact that most stuff spends 99 percent of its life sitting around waiting to be used. But now the Internet is helping us remember how to share.

So if you've got some books, DVDs, CDs, skis, drums, cameras, cell phones, etc. etc. etc. that you haven't used in a few weeks, months or years — make a list, sell them off or give them away.

It's a brave new economy, and it's 100-percent resource-free.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy. 


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