Environment – Think twice before hitting the shops

Grate place to hang earrings … toaster rack come coaster rack

When I look around my home at my appliances and furniture, I don’t remember hours of strolling through a mall or arguments with my husband over what colour to get the sofa while fluorescent lights strobe above our heads and the salesperson taps their foot awkwardly. My mind doesn’t flash back to crinkled catalogues and Briscoes sale hunting. 

Everything in my home has been gifted from friends, sourced from second-hand shops, upcycled, repaired, repurposed or passed down – with a new sustainably sourced purchase here and there. 

Filling our home this way comes with so much fulfilment, cash savings, positive memories, and joy! I strongly believe that a beautiful home can be crafted without mall visits. You don’t need to go all-in, but next time you need something for your home I challenge you to utilise this helpful guide before buying new: 

• Strategic second-hand shopping 

It’s one thing to second-hand shop, but it’s another to do so strategically. Sourcing homewares from second-hand shops involves a little more thought and preparation than simply wandering around on a Saturday morning. 

Craft a detailed list of what you need. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find the right thing on your first visit, other items may take more patience. If you’re after a specific item, ask the volunteers what they have – often they’ll keep a look out for you if you return frequently – they’re lovely like that. 

When scouting second-hand stores and sifting through other people’s ‘junk’, hold onto the possibility of a repair. With the right skills  – your own, or those of a local repairer or friend –anything can be fixed. Some of my best second-hand scores have been beautiful lamps without power cords, ripped couches, or kitchen appliances that simply needed a good clean. 

• Ask friends and family 

My neighbour, Cory, came to visit recently. She noticed the broken plunger on my bench and asked if I wanted her spare one. I had already bought another from a second-hand store for $5, but it reminded me of the power of community. 

In our lounge you’ll find a dining table passed down from my in-laws, a three-seater couch from my brother and sister-in-law, plant stands from locals on Facebook Marketplace, and a shoe rack we scooped up from the side of the road. When I was desperately searching for a garlic crusher last year, I mentioned this to my mother-in-law and she whipped out a spare one for me. 

• Upcycle it

My husband turns bedheads into shelves and doors into bedheads. I used a cracked pantry jar to house my cacti garden, and a few of our cushions are stuffed with our old, unusable clothes. 

Just because something has a label on it, doesn’t mean it won’t work in other areas of your home. 

If you’re rolling your eyes because you don’t feel like you have a creative bone in your body, start small. Make a list of what items you need and go from there. Employ creatives to help you, get your kids involved in upcycling projects, and think of all the money you can save by using resources you already have. 

However you choose to fill your home, fill it with useful things that make you happy. Consider the fact that anything new has an impact on the planet, takes finite resources to make and could have been designed with planned obsolescence in mind. 

Before you go out to buy something, look around you. Ask yourself: What else in my space could fill this purpose?