Sep 8, 2020 Putnam County News and Recorder
By Krystal Ford - Climate Smart Coordinator
Buy Local, Buy Used or Don't Buy at All
Household goods account for the 5th largest Item (13%) of Philipstown’s carbon emissions
I have a confession to make: I consider myself a devoted environmentalist but I also really like buying clothes. You may be wondering, what’s the big deal, you like clothes. According to the Philipstown GHG survey, Philipstowners spent an estimated $1479 on clothing each year, compared to only $497 on furniture. So, clearly I am not alone in liking clothing. But here’s the lowdown on clothes: Their lifecycle is terrible: A single pair of jeans on average emits 34kg of CO2 during production alone, similar to driving a car 69 miles, leaving aside all the water wasted and the chemicals used, the jeans after purchase are worn on average three years and then have a 85% chance of ending up in the trash. On average 81 lbs per person per year of clothing are thrown away.
Household goods account for the 5th largest (13%) of Philipstown’s carbon emissions. Included in that category of household goods is clothing, appliances, furniture, paper products, electronics and entertainment equipment, and personal care products. The emissions related to the purchase of all household goods, starts in the production (and a majority is made overseas,) transportation and distribution, by the buildings where goods are stored and sold, and then later in the waste stream when the household good is disposed of.
There’s an old saying, the cheapest good is the one you never buy. Or, put another way, the most environmentally friendly product is the one you never buy.
So what’s a clothes loving environmentalist going to do? Never shop again? I can certainly reduce what I buy. Or, I can shop mainly at stores that sell vintage or gently used second hand clothes. The good news is that Cold Spring and Beacon have a ton of great stores to shop from. Some of my favorites are: Black Bird Attic, Beacon, Poor George, Cold Spring, Beacon Vintage, Beacon, Swing, Cold Spring, and Wynono & Company, Cold Spring. I even consign at Black Bird Attic, so I often find myself dropping off clothes while shopping for something new (to me.) A little further drive, but also worth checking out is Goodwill in Wappingers and Once Upon A Child in Wappingers for a selection of children’s clothing and toys. And twice a year there is an amazing kids consignment sale called Be Green Kids Consignment that I would stock up on with toys, shoes and clothing for the kids.
In the Philipstown survey, 67% of respondents reported never or seldom buying used clothing.
Purchasing goods locally has a number of emissions-related benefits, besides the best benefit of all- supporting our main street businesses, the emissions related to transportation are significantly reduced and residents can walk, bike or drive reduced miles to purchase goods at local stores.
The current pandemic has made everything worse for our local businesses. Not to mention, its just so easy and convenient to shop on Amazon. But the economic and environmental toll of online shopping should make us all think twice before we “click” buy. Ease and convenience always comes at a price. Instead, take a stroll down Main Street, Cold Spring the next time you are in need of something: furniture (lots of antique stores) home improvement and garden supplies; C& E hardware store, Beauty care products: available in many stores, Gently used clothing or clothing; available in many stores in Cold Spring.
One of my favorite trends happening in our area is a facebook page called Philipstown Free Stuff and Beacon Buy, Sell, Trade. People use it to re-home everything from furniture, toys, clothing, garden equipment, shoes, halloween costumes, you name it. I’ve even put a few calls out for items I was specifically looking for. For instance I wanted to get another dresser for my kids bedroom and I didn’t want to buy a new one, so I posted that I was willing to pay upto $100 for a dresser if anyone had one they wanted to sell, and I got several offers in a day.
Tips to reduce your household goods emissions (while also saving money!)
1) Need to get rid of clothes, books, furniture, tools, etc? Don’t throw it away! Donate to That Nothing Be Lost Thrift and Antique Shop at Graymoor, Garrison, Goodwill, Vietnam Veterans, Big Brother Big Sister, Green Drop, Salvation Army. (some of these organizations will pick up directly at your house.) Or, join a facebook group like Philipstown Free Stuff and Beacon, NY Buy, Sell, Trade, Loan, Giveaway.
2) Check the Butterfield Library Lending Library, they lend tools, sewing machines, cake pans, camping equipment and more! https://butterfieldlibrary.org/library-of-things
3) Buy used
4) Buy Local
Rethinking how you buy (or don’t buy!) and get rid of household products is probably one of the easiest and affordable ways we can reduce our emissions in our town. Sure, it might take a little bit more time and effort than one-click shopping or tossing stuff in the trash, but the pay off is that we are supporting community businesses or we are helping our neighbors, and very often saving money. I see that as a win-win-win.