Submitted by 

Billy Allen


Here we are -- marching into spring, hopefully putting Covid behind us.  It caused a lot of GRIC event cancellations. Earth Day is in April, and maybe we can get out and about for community activities for the doings. Covid – I’ve read how landfills around the world grew because so much plastic is being used to fight the disease.



One way to ease the landfill situation is to be a thrift shopper. Reusing or repurposing is part of O’odham and Piipaash thought. Remember accompanying je’e/mother on scouting trips to second hand stores? 


The clothing industry is a major polluter. About 10% of humankind’s carbon emissions are due to textiles. Then 85% of those textiles end up in landfills where they degrade and end up in water systems, and also release methane into the atmosphere.  Thrift store clothing helps cut down on water and energy waste from actually making clothes, and lessens transportation pollution shipping all new clothes around the earth. So, if you’re a “thrifter,” then you’re a gifter to Mother Earth.  


My cousin Myrna Allen is most definitely a gifter! Her je’e/mother had an eye for a bargain, and so the apprentice learned from the master. Myrna shops at about 10 stores from South Phoenix to Mesa, all Huhugam country. She gave me lots of tips – special 20% discount days, online coupons, dollar days, stores with “good stuff,” reasonable prices.


A few of the bargains she has scored: a Nikon camera, a Coach handbag, a chain saw, electric hand tools for the yard and a small tool set. She has a collection of roasters for gatherings. She‘s purchased sewing machines and made clothes for the a’al/children, also teaching them how to sew! She looks upon shopping as retail therapy. Other cousins with sewing skills hit thrift stores for fabric, and also cut up skirts to reuse the fabric. Ingenuity! 


Treasure hunting is how Velda Lewis views thrift shopping. “You never know what you are going to find,” she said. Velda says knowing the lay of the land is vital. She has that O’otham scout instinct. Some stores seem to always have better goods than others, so knowing that determines which store to check out. Common purchases are books.


“I can find books on Kindle, but finding a book in the hand is great for me.” She once found a practically new set of Harry Potter books marked for $9.29 and then saw it on Amazon for $50. One really good buy was an old timey wooden ice box which needed a block ice for refrigeration, a few of us may remember. Sticker price $99.99 and she flipped it for $400!


Many thrift stores are charity based, so they help people as well as the environment. The Salvation Army focuses on housing, food, recreation programs, adult rehabilitation, and disaster relief. Goodwill helps people with job training and has several youth programs. Some thrift stores help fund services for military veterans. Our four-legged friends are part of the thrift world too. The Arizona Humane Society has thrift stores than help fund pet adoptions and some veterinary services. 



Don’t forget to donate to thrift stores too. Really old clothes that probably wouldn’t get bought can go for “textile recycling.” Clothing is reused in products such as carpet padding, rubberized playgrounds, and materials for the automotive industry. Organizations like Blue Jeans Go Green recycle unwanted blue jeans into housing insulation. Animal shelters usually accept old towels, blankets, and sheets, but check with them first. 


Myrna and Velda got me motivated, so we’ll go on the hunt for thrift bargains. If I could find a left-handed wrench, then I could get things done. 


Numbers were taken from https://www.groupfortheeastend.org/earth-month/2021/4/23/conscious-thrifting-fast-fashion-and-the-environment