second hand Feed

Why do I still have moments of mindless consumption?

(very) pre-loved ballet shoes

I enjoy mindful consumption. I love the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with consciously making a wise purchase.

Even a small purchase like buying local milk, makes me happy because I know my money is supporting a local business that treats their cows kindly.

Mindful consumption takes time, but I know the benefits are worth the effort.

Little Eco started ballet a few weeks ago. Part of me wanted to race out and buy her a new leotard, skirt and shoes straight away. I nearly did. All it would have taken was one trip to the shops and we would have been done. Instead, we've been searching through the second hand box at the studio each week. We found a leotard and a gorgeous hand-made skirt that someone had lovingly made, each for only a few dollars.

The shoes have taken a little longer.

Little Eco wore bare feet to class for the first two weeks. Then we discovered these very pre-loved ballet shoes in the box. They were free. They've been painted yellow at some stage, have a few holes, and the elastic was worn.

Despite their 'character', Little Eco was thrilled that we'd found her a pair of ballet shoes.

(very) pre-loved ballet shoes & pre-loved ballet skirt

I replaced the elastic and she proudly wore them to the following class, even though every other girl wore pink shoes. I was so proud of her.

Hopefully we'll discover a pair of pink shoes in the box in the next few weeks. I'm pleased that Little Eco is learning to wait and I know she is going to appreciate them when they appear.

Now contrast that warm and fuzzy experience with the following recent moment of mindless consumption.....

MIndless consumption - plastic bubble blower at the local show

We visited our local show recently. Little Eco enjoyed a few rides and we wandered through the animal and craft displays. Little Eco asked repeatedly for a plastic bubble making machine. There were kids everywhere blowing bubbles. In a moment of tiredness we gave in and bought her one.

I felt regret straight away. $10! What a waste of money. All that plastic, and even a battery, when we could have easily made our own.

Not unexpectedly, the bubble machine broke within a few hours causing Little Eco more grief than enjoyment.

Why do I still have moments of mindless consumption? Is it feeling tired, lazy, impatient or greedy? Whatever the cause, I'm pleased that moments of mindless consumption are becoming fewer. I know they give me no joy, so why go there?

How about you? Do you still have moments of mindless consumption?

Three thrifty examples of why I could never be a minimalist

I've been avoiding op shops lately.

I recently mentioned that I like the idea of becoming a minimalist, but can't because I enjoy op shopping too much.  I find it almost impossible to walk away from all those 'once in a lifetime' finds. That's one of the problems with thrift shopping, all too often I see things I love but don't need. What if I never see the same for sale ever again? I may need it one day. How can I resist? It's only a few dollars. I'm hopeless. So rather than be tempted I simply stay away from op shops.

This week I couldn't avoid op shopping. I had to build up my stash of old t-shirts so that I could make a fourth set of dress-up wings in as many weeks. It's birthday season among Little Eco's friends and i've decided to gift them all refashioned wings. They've been a huge hit so far.

Anyway, back to the op shopping and me being hopeless. Here's what I walked away with this week.

Thrift shop find 1 vintage toy pram

Little Eco and I fell in love with this pram as soon as we spotted it. It looked familiar. My mum has since told me that she had one just like it when she was young, so perhaps i'd seen hers in old photographs. Little Eco already has three prams, so this one wasn't exactly needed. Although, as she informed me, she didn't have any where her dolls could lie down. True. Sold!

Thrift shop find 2 vintage crochet bedspread

Then there was this crochet double bed spread. Totally perfect for the antique double bed Little Eco will use one day (currently our spare bed). Again not needed, because I'm sure it will be years before we move her into that bed. But truly, I couldn't very well not buy something so delightful, could I? 

Thrift shop find 3 brown pyrex

Then there's these pyrex dishes. I like collecting old ceramic casserole dishes and recycling them as pots for house plants. I wanted to use these for growing micro-greens. But I'm certain it's impossible to drill through pyrex (i'd love someone to tell me i'm wrong) and guessed that, so really shouldn't have bought these at all.

Are you able to resist 'once in a lifetime' thrift shop finds that you don't really need?

Want to be tempted by more vintage lovelies? Head on over to Sophie's for this weeks Flea Market Finds

I'll be drawing the Biome giveaway tomorrow night, so head on over and enter if you havn't already.

Our {more or less} No Spend Month

Recently, our daily ‘miscellaneous’ expenditure has crept up.  Coffee in a café. Op-shop treasures. Take-away lunch. Thrift shop finds. Newspapers. Garage sale bargains. Snacks. They all add up.

Op_shop_vintage_kids_pictures {Some recent second hand treasures that were too sweet to ignore}

Often, I’ll start the day with a $50 note in my wallet and by the end of the day it will be gone, with nothing to show for it (except a much needed coffee, a lovely lunch that I didn’t have to make, a treat for Little Eco, and yet another second hand find that was too good to ignore, but that I really didn’t need).

Op_shop_timber_bowls {A few more recent op shop treasures that I really didn't need}

Or lifestyle is currently far from frugal.

Inspired by Eileen of Consumption Rebellion, we did a no spend week almost a year ago (you can read about it here, here, here, here, here, and here). At the completion of that week we’d planned 'to regularly have no-spend weeks to remind us of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’'. That was almost a year ago, and we haven't done the challenge since. We decided we're well and truly due for another no-spend challenge.

Second_hand_glasses {another recent second hand find that we actually needed. I’ve been looking for pre-loved glasses just like these for months. Then last week I found these for 50cents each at a local church fete}

But things have changed around here a little since the last challenge, making a no-spend week not really that much of a challenge. We’ve found our pantry storage groove, and in reality we’d have a few months worth of dry-goods in there.

Dry_goods_pantry_storage_1 {part of our pantry, full of a range of dry goods that we eat regularly}

We’ve also changed what we eat. Most meals these days are based on a pantry staple (like chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, or rice) plus veges.

Dry_goods_pantry_storage {five large plastic buckets that sit in the bottom of our pantry are filled with dry goods. A jar can hold only so much. When a jar becomes empty we simply top up from our bucket storage system}

Speaking of veges, we paid for a years worth of vegetables at the start of the year. We’re lucky to be a member of the local Purple Pear Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and each week we receive a box of lovely fresh organic vegetables. So we don't have to pay anything for our vegetables for the rest of the year.

Purple_pear_CSA {Mark from Purple Pear CSA farm growing vegetables especially for us (and around 30 other local families)}

Given these changes since our last attempt at the no-spend challenge, we’ve decided a no-spend MONTH would be a more appropriate challenge.

We’re starting tomorrow!

A whole month of {more or less} no spending

IMG_2375 {Little Eco sharing her last pre-challenge treat with a friend at the farmer's markets today}

Obviously, we don’t want this challenge to affect our health and wellbeing. It’s about reminding ourselves of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. It’s not about depriving ourselves of ‘needs’. So there are a few exceptions.

The exceptions

1.    Bills will be paid.
2.    Medical and health expenses are exempt.
3.    $50 per week for fuel.
4.    $20 per week for local milk and organic fruit.
5.    Our weekly cleaner. We’re telling ourselves she’s exempt cause it wouldn’t be fair for her to lose four weeks income from us, but in reality keeping her is about maintaining our wellbeing and sanity. To me, weekends are for family and adventures, not cleaning. After four days at work, the last thing I want to do is clean.

Despite these exceptions, I still think the month is going to be a doosy of a challenge.

How about you, how little could you spend in a week?

Would you consider going a day, week or a month without spending?

Wish us luck :-)

Still in the mood for more pre-loved treasures? Head on over to this weeks Flea Market Finds.

Only four days left to enter the Planet Boab giveaway.

Her spaces: a few child-sized eco play spaces

I thought i'd share a few of Little Eco's favourite play spaces.

'Little lounge room'



Little Eco's 'Little Lounge Room' occupies a teeny corner of our lounge room. Most of its contents are well and truly 'pre-loved'. The timber lounge was made by my grandfather around 38 years ago (it doubles as a table). There's the Itsy bitsy teeny weeny kitchen hutch, and a vintage tin. The tea cups, picnic basket, dolls house, doily, cardboard filing boxes, and side table are also all pre-loved. 

Craft space


This craft space has been around for only a week or so, but has become a favourite spot for threading beads and sewing. Next week I think we'll try sewing on buttons. I'm also keeping an eye out for a vintage sewing basket that i'll fill with toddler-friendly sewing equipment. I think i'll leave a new craft activity out ready each week.

The 1940/50's kids chairs were a very lucky ebay find (I can't believe I was the only one bidding on them!) that I happily added to our collection.


The sweet little pictures came from a damaged story book and I made the pottery 'thing' on the right when I was around 12.

Little Eco wasn't happy about me repurposing one of her teddy bears as a pin cushion for her sewing needles....


...and quickly rescued teddy.

'Work space'

Inspired by Immy's new art space, I finally created a little desk space i'd been planning for ages. Little Eco promptly declared it was her 'work space'. Everything is out ready for her to use; paper, pencils, scissors, glue, crayons, and activity books



I've started collecting embroidered vintage doilies. How can I resist them when someone has spent hours and hours lovingly sewing them and now they sit in an op shop for only $1!?

Need more doily inspiration? You simply have to check out dottie angel.

Painting space


This is definitely the most used space. A basket of paints and brushes lives on the table so that Little Eco can paint whenever she wants.


Rather than buy loads of different colours (and the packaging that comes with them), I buy primary colours and white and we mix any colours we need. I've been surprised by how quickly Little Eco is learning what colours to mix to create the colours she needs.

We mix colours in glass jars, so that if there's any left over we simply put on the lid and save it till next time.

Little Eco's painting smock is probably one the most 'pre-loved' things in our house. Daddy Eco made the smock out of an old T-shirt he couldn't bear to part with and it's been worn hundreds of times since then (including for one of her most memorable painting moments).

The paper is also recycled. I keep an eye out at work for one-sided reports that are about to be tossed out. The A3 ones make great art books.

The best thing about all theses little spaces....


...they are within metres of where I spend most of my time. She can get on with her stuff and I can get on with mine.

Although sometimes I think I should watch her 'stuff' a little closer.


This is what greeted me only a few minutes after taking the above painting photos. Have you noticed this girl is obsessed with face and body painting?

Montessori inspired play spaces

Much of what I have incorporated into Little Eco's play spaces has been influenced by the Montessori method. Small, child-sized environments. An opportunity for her to choose her own activity. An open, uncluttered environment.

If you are interested in more Montessori play spaces, here's my absolute favorites:

New York Social Diary: Lisa Mahar Home, Ohdeedoh

Finns corner, finnian's montessori room, and finnian and lachlan's studio, Sew Liberated.


For more play inspiration, head on over to this weeks We Play at Childhood 101.

If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please take a moment and share it. Tweets or Facebook likes are great. Many thanks.

Don't forget to enter the Seeds for the Future giveaway. Entried close thursday.

Be well and happy,Tricia.

Online pre-loved clothing stores

Little Eco recently moved up a clothing size, and was running out of clothes. I didn’t have time to go op-shopping and wasn’t in the mood for the waiting involved in ebay shopping. I wanted to buy clothes there and then, so went off in search of online stores selling second hand-clothes, not very confident they would exist. But they do! I found Preloved Kidswear.

Five minutes later I had bought Little Eco some great new pre-loved clothes and a few days later we received the parcel. The order came with a little too much non recyclable packaging for my liking (each item was in an individual plastic bag!?) but otherwise I was happy. The clothes were reasonably priced and in excellent condition.

I went searching for other Australian online second hand clothing stores and share a list below. Know any others? Feel free to share other online pre-loved clothing stores in the comments. 

{Updated March 2014}

A list of Australian online pre-loved clothing stores

Kids and babies clothing

Cotton Haystack (also sells maternity)

Every Little Girl

Nuture the nest (note - some  clothes are new so choose carefully)

Preloved Kidswear


Shop and swap 4 kids



Womens clothing

PreLoved Maternity Boutique

Many of the above shops also buy or swap clothing. Find out more over at this helpful post on Where to sell (and buy) pre-loved baby clothes by A Little Change

Speaking of pre-loved clothing ~ Upcoming Raid My Wardrobe events ~

For those of you from the Central Coast or Newcastle, you’re lucky enough to have a Raid My Wardrobe event near you soon. 

P.S Most of you will know why buying new clothes isn't great for the environment, but in case you don’t, or just need to be reminded, here’s an article worth reading: Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry.