Want to help the environment? Visit an op shop first!

Awareness of the environmental impact of our consumption-driven society is slowly increasing. Whether we are talking about clothes or other goods, every new item we purchase has cost the environment in some way. The raw materials used have come from the earth. Equipment has been manufactured to craft the products, is run on electricity and requires maintenance and parts. Once made, products are packaged in plastic, paper and cardboard. More resources like oil and fuel are used in their transportation, often from overseas. Then there is the human cost. People are very often exploited in factories and sweat shops, and work under poor and sometimes dangerous conditions for very little pay.

Too often, items are purchased, briefly used and enjoyed, and discarded. Little thought is given to the environmental and human resources that have gone into their making.

There are 3 things we can all do to help.

  1. We can become more considered about the purchases we make. Do we really need it? Is it made to last or just a throw-away or novelty item? Where is it made? Is there a fair-trade option?
  2. If we decide to make a purchase, we can look in an op shop first rather than buying a brand new item.
  3. When we have things that are in a reasonable condition but no longer fit or are not needed anymore, we can put them in a charity bin rather than sending them to landfill.

Buying pre-loved items of all kinds from op shops makes great economic and environmental sense. And the money from your purchases goes toward providing help for people who are disadvantaged.







Here is a large 70s-era casserole dish I picked up at an op shop, after mine developed a crack after about 15 years of use. It was $6. And I was lucky enough to stumble upon this Bendigo Pottery dish for $9. I had a smaller one for about 20 years which slipped right off the oven gloves one night and smashed onto the floor. That was bad enough, but it took with it a lovely spanish onion and blue cheese tart I had just baked!







This entire outfit cost $14 at an op shop. The jumper is 100% cotton and is from Yarra Trail. The pants have been hand hemmed and were obviously owned by a woman exactly my height and size. The coffee table was bought at a second-hand store at least 20 years ago. Recently I was at an op shop looking for something else and these matching chairs were outside, for $25 each! Our existing cane chairs, which were bought from a friend years ago when she was down-sizing, had perished from the sun. I found the cushions in another op shop for $4 each.

Now, I can afford to buy new items and I often do. I would hate to think that my op shop purchases deprive someone who is disadvantaged from affordable access to the things they need. But there are 6 op shops bursting with goods within a 15 minute drive of my home. So it appears there is plenty to go around! This is a good thing in some ways. But is also says much about our obsession with shopping and consumerism.

Are you also a fan of op shops? What purchases have you made from them? Do leave a comment and let me know.



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  • I’m visiting op shops a lot more these days Jo. I have a few friends who now get together to buy clothes at op shops. They’re really set out good nowadays too. I do think they are growing in popularity which is terrific.
    Love your outfit.

  • Jo says:

    I hadn’t had a lot to do with op shops – although have always enjoyed a browse around. My daughter has just started working behind the scenes for one of the larger charity op shops here on the coast & it’s opened my eyes in a big way. #TeamLovinLife

    • Jo says:

      They seem to use an army of volunteers Jo, and probably some paid staff as well. They really are integral to funding services for the community.

  • I haven’t been op shopping for a while now but I’ll have to give it a go again. I never seem to find any suitable clothing in my size that I like but I have bought many household items from there in the past. It used to be good for children’s DVDs and toys when my children were younger.

    • Jo says:

      It’s great for books too Ingrid. I dropped into one in Millmerran recently, and was amazed to find the authors in alphabetical order. To top it off, I picked up a Diana Gabaldon novel I hadn’t read for $2!

  • Vanessa says:

    A lot of my furniture is second hand from op shops or garage sales.
    My slow cooker was something like $4. Bargain!
    I can never find clothes or shoe that fit so my clothes are all new. Though I did just take a stack of work clothes I’m simply sick of and don’t wear to a charity store, along with my year 12 formal dress. I hope a young woman who needs it finds it for her formal this year.

  • BoomingOn says:

    Oooh, I do love a good op shop – good for the world and I cannot lie – I love a bargain. My latest thing is picking up gorgeous little dresses for $3ish for Little Miss 3. You have to pick through, but there are gems to be had. My top tip: pop in to Op Shops in well-to-do little towns if you’re passing through – high calibre of clothes to be found.

    • Jo says:

      I’m sure your little one is delighted to have some ‘new’ and pretty dresses, and what a bargain! Great idea to head for higher-end suburbs and towns.

  • Deborah says:

    I’m trying to be more ‘minimalist’. In some ways I’ve always hated clutter, but I’m much better now at really asking myself if I need something. I’m particularly into ‘housey’ things but not really for the sake of it, so think I’m improving on that front and I’m currently keeping my eye out for a second hand cane chair of some sort! #teamlovinlife

  • writeofthemiddle says:

    I love buying pre-loved items and have many of them in my house! I don’t think I’m familiar with op shops but have found some lovely things in antique shops. Don’t mind where I find them though! I have that exact same casserole dish actually but think it was an engagement or wedding gift. Now I feel old! lol #TeamLovinLife

  • Johanna says:

    So agree … and I love visiting op shops with my daughter who’s really into it. So too one of my best friends. Having the time is the main thing as of course you need to do a little sifting. But I’m all for an old treasure or a bargain over a shop bought item covered in plastic and packaging.

  • I love a good rummage in a charity or 2nd hand store, it’s amazing what treasures can be had if you take the time to sift through the stores contents. I also pass things on when i’m finished with them, rather than sending them to the land fill. They either go to a charity store or are offered on our community website or Freestuff.

  • It’s always great to find a bargain at an op shop. I used to run my own Old Wares store, so we got into recycling in a big way. We still own a lot of secondhand, recycled and vintage items 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  • I don’t buy much from op shops but I do buy a lot of pre-loved clothes from a consignment store plus online from eBay.

  • Love love LOVE op shopping. In the early days it was motivated by lack of cash, but over the years I became a savvy op shopper and have found some absolute treasures. And hubster never complains about a shopping spree if it’s at the op shop – he says how lowdown and scabby would he feel if he did that?!

  • OMG! My mum had that casserole dish! #nostalgic

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