Since mid January, ECA has been listing items for sale on ebay. Over the last three months, we have sold about 50 items. But one recent transaction stands out. We had a set of four white procelain Bing & Grondahl plaques for sale. A gentleman in Maryland made an offer to buy the plaques, and I accepted his offer. I then received a message from him that he wanted to pay more since we are a nonprofit. I wrote back and said that he was being very generous, but the sale had already gone through.
I didn’t think any more about it until a call came into the shop on Friday. A customer was calling, wanting to speak with me. Once he identified himself as the gentleman from Maryland, I immediately thought “Oh no, it’s a problem with the plaques.” But to my surprise and delight, he wanted to get an email address to send me some pictures of the changes he made to the plaques. So I gave him my email address, and then we chatted a bit.
He was quite pleased with the plaques and how he has displayed them. He had taken them out of the frames and soaked them to remove the glue that was securing them to green velvet backgrounds. The picture on the left shows how they look now.
When I saw the pictures he sent, I just started smiling. Smiling about finding treasures, about upcycling them, about kind and friendly communication among strangers, and how small and connected the world seems in this age of technology.
One of the things I like best about volunteering at ECA is the adventure - the thrill of opening a newly donated box or bag and wondering what I am going to find. While it is true that 93% of the items are everyday things that are very useful and necessary, it is the search for the 7% that holds the biggest thrill and is the most fun for me.
Having someone from Maryland find such pleasure from one of the treasures I unboxed adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment for me.
If you want to join the “treasure hunt” as a volunteer, go to our website and fill out our volunteer application. If you want to find and purchase some treasures, come to our shop in Kirkland or visit us on ebay.
Magic can happen,
Earth Day has special significance for me since I am a long time environmentalist and my daughter was born on Earth Day. She spent her first 11 birthdays attending Earth Day events in western Washington. Between the ages of 3 and 9, she thought it was all a big party for her.
Last month the City of Kirkland, WA, where our shop is located, banned plastic bags for retail use. According to treehugger.com, Kirkland is the 12th entity in Washington to ban plastic bags. Other cities in order of implementation dates are: Edmonds, Seattle, Bellingham, Bainbridge Island, Mukilteo, Issaquah, Shoreline, Olympia, Tumwater; and incorporated Thurston County. In 2007, San Francisco was the first city in the United States to ban plastic bags.
According to a study conducted by The Equinox Center of several cities in California that banned plastic bags, there were significant changes in bag use, as shown in the following charts:
As shown above, a plastic bag ban increases the number of paper bags used at retail. Some argue that further education needs to be done to move all the folks using paper to using reusable bags. While paper bags are made from a renewable resource and can be recycled, they still have a significantly greater environmental impact than reusable bags do.
The adjustment to a plastic bag ban can take awhile. Even though I live in Seattle, I still sometimes forget to bring my bag into the store, or I find more to buy than I have bags for with me. Over the nearly 4 years since Seattle enacted the ban, I have accumulated about 15-20 reusable bags that live in my car or in my house, waiting to make it back out to my car. I find I need to have at least 10 bags in the mix or I end up with none where and when I need one. At ECA Thrift Shop, we have many used reusable bags for sale at very reasonable prices. They are located right next to our dressing rooms.
Using less and reusing what has already been manufactured is the most environmentally friendly way to lead our lives. Thrifting is an integral way to have a smaller footprint.
Let’s celebrate Earth Day this year by consuming less, recycling more, and reusing all that we can. And for those who can, let’s plant a tree since this year’s Earth Day theme is “Trees for the Earth.” To learn more about local Earth Day activities planned for this year, visit Seattle Earth Day Events.
Susan is a frequent volunteer at Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop, where she sorts, prices, and stocks merchandise to her heart's content. Before retirement, she owned and operated a consignment shop for women's plus size clothing in Seattle. Through trial and error and talking with customers, she learned a thing or two. An avid "thrift shopper," Susan loves to buy clothing, especially when she gets good quality and value for her money.
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Eastside Community Aid
Every donation makes a difference.
Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop is a 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit organization.
All donations made to us are tax deductible. Tax ID #91-1155373