As collectors we have been “green” for years—ahead of the crowd when it comes to recycling and reusing. If you’re like us, congratulate yourselves for being “correct.”
Look at how collectors recycle. Flea market dealers wrap our purchases in old newspapers. No delivery truck is needed; we haul our own great buys in the same car we came in. We search for parts of old buildings that used to be thrown away but now are marketed as “architectural antiques.” We use old, not new, cookie jars and dinnerware. Look around your house and admire your “ecological footprint.” If you bought everything new instead of old, how much extra electricity, gasoline and wood would you have used?
Collectors have saved millions of trees by using antique furniture. New furniture not only requires new wood, but also power to cut lumber, light the factory and deliver the finished product.
Our house is over 50 years old. It was built with old-fashioned lumber, not plywood, and plaster, not wallboard. It has other features that are healthier (no fumes from chemicals) and can withstand flood and hurricanes better than most new houses. When we redecorate, we use new fabrics and paint but don’t buy new accessories or tables. We like old. But we’re not as extreme as the San Francisco recycling group of 10 young friends called the Compactors. They didn’t buy anything new for a year except food and a few necessities like toilet paper and brake fluid. Everything else came from thrift stores, flea markets or even trash bins. They think it was a new idea. We suspect their great-grandparents were doing the same thing during the Depression because they had very little money. And their parents may have been collectors who recycled and saved money buying old things long before their children rediscovered the idea of “sustainability.”