• Audrey Prisk

Shop Sustainable: 7 Items You Never Need to Buy New

Let’s talk about trash, baby! Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the ways that we can change things responsibly!

Snapping along to the above lyricism is highly encouraged because the topic you’re about to read through is kind of a downer, but a necessary one.

There is a substance known as municipal solid waste or MSW. You probably call it trash. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, MSW includes materials from food scraps and yard trimmings to paper, cardboard, and everything in between. The total MSW generated by the U.S. in 2018 was 292.4-million tons.

Photo Credit: EPA

In 2018, 62% of all generated glass ended up in landfills, according to the data collected by the EPA’s reports. This is also true for 66% of all textiles and 75% of all plastics. Yikes.

This means that 62% of glass products made in the U.S. found their homes in landfills in the same year. The bright spot is that we're getting better at recycling than our predecessors. According to the EPA, 69-million tons of generated MSW was recycled in 2018, which is 54-million tons more than what was being recycled 40 years ago. In keeping with this trend, here are seven items you can shop for at a thrift store instead of buying new, which helps ease the burden placed on landfills and the planet.

Tupperware and Kitchen Items

According to recyclecoach.com, food storage containers with a 1 or 2 recycling symbol on the bottom are accepted by the majority of recycling programs. That being said, there is a surplus of these items waiting to be purchased for use in your kitchen at your local thrift stores. Walk down the aisles and you’ll find things like muffin tins, silverware, pizza cutters, and wine glasses.

Craft Supplies

Salvaged Living recently shared a post on how to create DIY projects from items salvaged from thrift stores. The possibilities here really are endless. The best part is, even without a specific craft in mind, there will always be materials ready to be added to your collection.


This one might sound like a stretch, but things like screwdrivers, wrenches and measuring tapes end up at thrift stores in droves. Everything you need to create a basic toolkit (think baby’s first apartment) can be found thrifted in near perfect condition.

Holiday Decorations

Thrift stores live for showcasing their themed items available for purchase around the holidays. If decor catches your eye in another store, check your local thrift stores for pieces that can mimic what your heart is set on having. It doesn’t have to be new to feel new.


Did you know that the shipping, distribution, and manufacturing of glass bottles produces a higher carbon footprint than the production of plastic bottles? According to Tapp Water, that’s the case. Instead of being another cog in the wheel of this unsustainable process, it might be time to try buying glass vases (you know, the kind found at Dollar Tree) and other glass containers (votives, cups, trinkets) at the thrift store. There’s even a fun trend beloved by DIYers happening right now where glass items are given a facelift and turned into faux-terracotta!


Leather belts. Hair scarves. Vintage purses. As The Little Mermaid would say, “Look at this trove, treasures untold…” There are many ways to upcycle the items already forgotten in your household, but when the excitement of the old wears off, something equally chic can be found at a thrift store. It may require patience and digging, but the rare find is always worth it.


Scanning thrift stores for costumes is not only a sustainable option for landfills, it taps into the fun process of creating something from scratch that’s not being made in another country for pennies on the dollar. Not to mention helping with the 16-million tons of textile waste that ends up in landfills each year. A costume does not need to be prefabricated to be fabulous.

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