Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I go 'thrifting' once a week to the C.A.T.S. Resale Shop in Westwood on my way to Old Hook Farm. It's frugal, fun, and best yet, all the funds go to support homeless animals.

Among them, meet Sylvester. His heartless 'guardians' tossed him outside since they didn't want to take him when they moved. If I didn't have allergies, I'd give him a home in a heartbeat.

I library-it the majority of the time for books, but who can resist these prices? When I buy, I usually like to pass books on. At work, someone organized a small book swap where you can donate and take what you like. Buying new? Support your independent bookshop. Mine is Shaw's Book Shop in Westwood.

Holiday candles, a pair for $1. I don't believe buying high priced soy candles, especially if you have to ship them. I get all my candles through thrift. They make a great hostess gift as well.

Penny for your thoughts? Check out their lovely cats looking for their forever home.

I visited Beautiful Little Secret, a new thrift store on 52 E. Madison Ave. in Dumont, NJ. Hours are Tues., Wed., Fri., Sat. (10-5:30) and Thurs. (12-8). I had a thoughtful chat with the owner. We both lamented over the disappearance of main streets, and what an important part of the community they are. She offers a community board for all sorts of things, including those looking for jobs. Kudos!

I couldn't resist. I bought this sweet white top with the $36 tag still on it for just $8, which I paired with a purple cotton scarf for $5. All vegan.

Winter clothes can be a challenge for vegans. My advice: don't feel like you have to wipe the slate clean and veganize your closet. I still use many non-vegan items. I don't need a conversation starter about how great you can look as a vegan.

My favorite conversation: getting a compliment, and seeing the look on their face when I say, "Thanks, $4 from the thrift shop!" or "Free! From a clothing swap!"

Another conversation: how Americans are always being sold on an idealistic lifestyle we cannot afford. I think of Project Laundry List's Alexander Lee's observation about how, "We work more and vacation less than any of the countries we compare ourselves to now. And we sit behind a desk to earn thousands of dollars to buy appliances." Add to this all the possessions (books, clothes, kitchenware) which cost a mere fraction when buying thrift. You can even get items for free using freecycle, swaps or the library.

Also kitchen table topic worthy: there are plenty of vegan items through second hand. You can even get Stella McCartney on eBay if that's your thing. But I don't think it is evil to buy a wool sweater or $5 leather shoes (vs. $200 new 'eco-friendly' shoes, whatever that means) second-hand. It's thrifty, and is keeping things out of the landfill and requires one less new item to be produced.

Besides, you don't think any of these bloggers are getting for free some of the high-priced items they're telling us to buy? I think so. The FTC is even looking to crack down on blogger freebies, according to The Wall Street Journal. It's questionable how enforceable this is, but I say always, buyer beware. They could be simply out-of-touch to the economic climate.

I don't let anyone define my life for me, or feel like I have to adhere to someone else's label. People have any assortment of taxes, mortgages, tuition, insurance and other expenses to pay, and no one is owed an explanation. I'm not in a competition to out-vegan anyone.

In Entre Nous - A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, American Debra Ollivier living in France recalled how her French friend would flip through glossy magazines and declare, "Fairy tales!" Precisely what I think of images of the high-priced vegan life.

Get your thriftiness on at your local charitable thrift shop or consignment shop. Donate or sell unwanted items to keep the reduce, reuse, recycle order in balance. These shops support your community, the environment, and are good for your wallet.


ByTheBay said...

I help the owner of Beautiful Little Secret with spreading the word about her business online and I just came across your lovely post. Thanks for helping get the word out about BLS! Hope you'll stop by again soon, Cathy just got a lot of new spring clothing in. Do you live in the area?

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm actually wearing the scarf in the photo as I write this, and adore the white top.

Yes, I'm in the area. I'll be happy to stop by soon. I was so impressed by Cathy's efforts at promoting thrifting as a 'green' practice, and her strong commitment to the community and main street life. I hope her shop is a success. Her store - and other thrift and consignment shops - are a breath of fresh air in the homogenized, over-crowded mall culture of Bergen County.

ByTheBay said...

Ditto, big time! I feel so out of place here in Bergen County because everyone's idea of fun is going to the mall. Ugh. I haven't lived here long and I've found it hard to meet people with similar (frugal, green, etc) values. This area makes me feel like such a hippie! I like Cathy the minute I met her so when she told me she's not a computer person I offered to take on a lot of the PR for her. In fact I just created a Facebook fan page so if you're on Facebook come check it out:!/pages/Dumont-NJ/Beautiful-Little-Secret-Consignment-Gift-Shop/10150134043655534?ref=ts

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Well I've lived in Bergen County my entire life, and my idea of a good time on a Saturday is going thrifting, visiting Old Hook Farm, eating a leisurely lunch, going to the park with the dog and hitting the library. Once upon a time I would go to the mall, but can no longer fathom going there recreationally. I am now an avid thrifter. You are not alone!

Thanks very much for the information.

Gluten-Free By The Bay said...

I love Old Hook Farm! My dream is having a little market garden (mini-farm just growing enough to sell at farmer's markets, basically) of my own.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

That sounds like a great dream! Glad you like the farm too. It's so sad that so few shop there, and I pass a packed Shop-Rite on the way there with everyone with their non-reusable yellow plastic bags and way too much processed food.