Recycled, Reused, Rebuilt: My Earth Friendly Way of Life

Living with second hand or recycled things has become our avenue to financial liberty. Moving across the country five years ago, when we arrived and moved into our new mobile home we had only a queen sized mattress, a 27″ TV, a love seat sofa, and a stacked washer dryer unit. All removed from the 5th wheel travel trailer we had been living in for the past two years. In reality we had nothing as all this had to be returned to the travel trailer when it was to be sold.

We chose a mobile home instead of buying an existing frame house purely out of convenience and economics. With state of the art construction methods the very energy efficient mobile home is built as well as any “Normal” house. 2×6 walls, well insulated, high efficiency appliances, and most of all a modest size. No point heating and maintaining space we don’t need.

There we sat, our sofa and TV in the living room, the mattress on the floor in the bedroom, and the rest of our home empty. My first place of employment turned out to be the local Recycling and Disposal facility. All manner of household items were routinely brought in to be reused if possible or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner.

I was able to pickup many items that allowed us to rapidly bring our empty home up to acceptable standards. Being rather handy at repairing and refinishing I was able to actually follow a common theme in our decorating. That being a somewhat antique Victorian collection of furniture, pictures, and even electronics of the period.

After stripping and refinishing and some new upholstery such items as a grand old oak rocking chair, a 1930’s Zenith floor model console radio, and a nice snare drum table, our living room is a trip back in time when sitting around the radio was the usual Saturday night activity for many families.

Rummage sales and local thrift stores brought some stylish lamps and even some old china into our collection. It was easy to find enough inexpensive pictures to decorate our walls and it also got my wife interested in collecting salt and pepper shakers. She’s always finding some interesting or curious item to include in our decor.

As our financial position was rather mediocre we got in the habit of shopping for clothing at thrift stores as well. Rummage sales also provided good selections. After time it became a habit to look for bargains even when we weren’t in particular need. Finding that slightly used item for penny’s on the dollar just made sense.

Discount food stores such as Save-a-Lot provided our basic nutritional needs. Coupons helped with specialty items when we were forced to patronize higher priced supermarkets. We seldom drive, we have no need to. Once weekly I go for groceries, otherwise it’s the city bus.

With this effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle have we felt like we were missing out on the good things in life? Not hardly, we still go out for dinner occasionally. We like to see a good movie now and then, we do as most usual people of our age group do. There is one difference, we are easily living within our modest means.

With the current and ongoing increased cost of energy and food this lifestyle will become mandatory for many people. When you step back and take a good look at it, you may find as we have. It’s not a bad way to go.

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