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Opinion

Thrifty tips for students

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September 30, 2011

In America, people seek faster, cheaper, and better. However, in this unreasonable quest for immediate satisfaction, people overlook quality, long-term solutions. Instead of using one-stop shops like Wal-Mart, society as a whole benefits when its members choose to shop at thrift stores, flea markets, consignment shops, and natural or organic food stores. Additionally, the consumer reaps wonderful benefits.

When shopping at thrift stores and flea markets, a host of advantages arise. Primarily, thrift stores offer unbeatable prices. Hundreds of clothing items sell for well under $5 a piece, furniture often falls under $100, and general household items holds prices under a tenth of their original value. Often, prices drop even more drastically if an item needs a minor repair, such as a few stitches along a seam, or replacing a button. In addition to unbeatable prices, these places offer unique items and the opportunity to truly express oneself with individualistic pieces. When shopping at chain stores like American Eagle, several people in the small community of River Falls will own the exact same article of clothing, not to mention the millions of people around the world also traipsing around in the same outfit. Furthermore, purchasing previously owned clothing greatly reduces waste. Instead of tossing unwanted, yet perfectly functional items, people donate their possessions to thrift stores. By shopping at a thrift store, people save money, find oneof- a-kind pieces, and help the planet.

Similarly, purchasing organic and natural food establishes a healthier world in many ways. Organic foods grow with minimal, if any, aid from pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers. Without use of these chemicals, pollution of the environment and health risks drop dramatically for the food producing employees. These employees then experience greater job satisfaction and happier lives, and therefore less of a job turnover rate, resulting in more skilled and knowledgeable food producers. Additionally, the absence of chemicals benefits the vegetation, herbivores on all levels, carnivores, and in turn the health of the people. Furthering the health of consumers, the absence of manmade ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and hydrogenated oils provides a more wholesome diet that human bodies evolved to consume. By purchasing natural and organic foods, the entire earth and all its inhabitants’ lives improve.

Finally, to address the main concern of the population, organic foods cost more than the mass-produced, cheap-to-create items on supermarket shelves. However, people can easily accommodate for these slightly higher prices through a number of means. Simple penny pinching goes a long way. Be it by eliminating unnecessary purchases (humans do not need daily Caribou Coffee, despite what their caffeine-riddled bodies and marketing ads tell them). Second, people can choose to make smarter decisions regarding other shopping purchases (like exploring thrift stores), or using the coupons, membership discounts, and punchcards that many health food stores and co-ops offer. While many people dislike reducing their frivolous spending habits, it comes down to the decision of which holds more importance: impulse buys or the health and safety of oneself and the world as a whole.

Every time you go to purchase a product, remember that you proactively vote with every dollar you spend. The more you choose wisely and pick natural or organic items, the more those items will rise in demand and be produced; on the other hand, the more you purchase the cheapest bulk product, the more the product’s manufacturers will continue their abuses.

So choose wisely. Check out the website “betterworldshopper.org” for easy-to-read (yet intensively researched) rankings of thousands of brands and shopping locations and descriptions of their practices.

Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.