Going Green with Antiques & Collectibles


rachel Buying, selling, and collecting antiques and collectibles gives me a leg up in the “green” department. The items I typically sell have made their carbon footprint on the planet years, if not decades or centuries, ago. Their only carbon usage now comes from the gasoline used for the buyers or sellers to receive the items, and the running of the storefront. All second-hand markets, like antiques, are keeping treasures out of the landfill. Our customers are choosing to reuse items, rather than buy something brand new. They are often rewarded for their efforts by obtaining a piece of beauty that is better made than many modern pieces. Antiques and collectibles typically have a better value that their modern counterparts because they were built to last; a higher price may actually mean less financial investment since there is less need to replace the item year after year. Our ancestors did not waste items simply because it was cheaper to buy a new item than to fix the old one; they took pride in and saved money by repairing broken items. 

Earth Day always makes me think of my paternal grandmother. She was one of the biggest “antiquers” in my family, and she always kept a slop bucket in the kitchen (compost pail for us non-farmers) despite the fact that there were no longer pigs to “slop.” The vegetable scraps from her annual garden went directly into the bucket. She lived rather simply but was prepared for the next Great Depression with stockpiled pantry items and clothes bought on sale. She used antiques and collectibles in everyday life – giving them the care they deserved but having no fear of a little girl damaging them. I grew up knowing how to treat antiques because I used them every day. I grew up appreciating her care for her household and the land. In my mind, purchasing antiques, collectibles and other items on the second hand market will always be a way to promote stewardship of the earth and honor my frugal grandmother.

Here are some tips for buying and selling green all year long:

Determine your needs and try scouting a suitable item at a thrift store or antiques store before you purchase new items.

If you love shopping for new items, ask your favorite boutique or retailer to carry sustainably produced items. Be willing to pay a little more for these items.

When buying gifts, choose sustainable items.

Buy Made in the USA – the farther an item travels to get to the store, the more carbon it uses.

Buy from American and local artists – handmade items typically make a smaller carbon footprint that mass produced items. Be willing to pay a little more for the work and artistry of your purchase.

After cleaning out your closets and drawers, hold a yard sale or donate to your local thrift store.

Do you have glass or paper items to recycle? Make sure they aren’t old before you toss them in the bin. Older items in these categories could get you a little bit of cash from second-hand dealers, and reusing items uses fewer resources than recycling or tossing. 

Reuse or recycle all that you can.

Source: Rachel Glenn