How I Discovered Thrifting, Second Hand Shopping & Became A Lover Of All Things Pre-Loved? The Charity Shop Queen.

The short, two word answer to this is my Nan. I’m writing this at the one year anniversary of losing her and publishing close to what would have been her 92nd birthday because I didn’t want the day to go by as though it was now any other. Of all the losses I’ve encountered to date, this one has been the hardest. She was the most incredible, selfless person and I almost feel a little sorry for anyone that didn’t know her. So whilst this is hard for me to write I love to share stories of her because it means in a way that she’s still with me.

Growing up I gave her the nickname of The Charity Shop Queen. If it hadn’t been for her I’m confident that I would never have entertained second hand shopping. My parents weren’t fans of the charity shop concept or preloved purchases as, like many of that generation, they imagined the shops to be fusty, unpleasant and a means to an end if you were financially struggling. My Nan loved them. Nine times out of ten every time we spoke she’d tell me excitedly about a shopping trip, window browse or second hand bargain of which she got many. She described virtually everything as “unusual” which always made me chuckle as it was often the reason she couldn’t leave things behind.

The area I grew up had an excellent selection of charity shops and whenever she would come to stay within minutes of arriving she’d be scheduling her first trip and plan of attack with where to start, loop by and end. This was always met with groans from everyone in the house except me. When I was much younger I was indifferent to charity shopping, I just wanted to spend time with my Nan, so I always sided with her and off we’d go. Her enthusiasm was infectious and, because of her, the older I got the more I fell in love with charity shopping too.

I’d often try persuading my parents to take me before I was old enough to go alone. I succeeded rarely but remember on one occasion in my early teens buying a shirt for £5 from an expensive brand that the girls at school were all obsessed with as it was the “in” thing to have. I remember feeling very smug when fielding questions like where I got it and wasn’t it expensive which definitely helped fuel a love for thrifting even more. I cottoned on just how much further I could make my money go. At this age I kept the preloved purchases a secret.

Nowadays, particularly as I’m conscious about reducing my environmental impact, buying second hand is my go-to. If anyone compliments me on what I’m wearing my default response now is “thanks, it’s second hand”. It’s the first place I look when I need something new be that either physically in stores or via sites like eBay. It saves me a fortune and lines up beautifully with my efforts to be more eco friendly as it means I’ve turned my back on almost all fast fashion. It may sound silly to some but on the day I was told we wouldn’t have my Nan with us for much longer I picked myself up and went to my local charity shops. It made me feel closer to her as I knew she wouldn’t want to think of me sat at home feeling sad, so I did what she used to do best. It goes without saying that I wore preloved to her funeral because it felt wrong not to. I know she’d have approved of little black Ted Baker dress bargain which I gave a debut to.

This year I’ve been filling an unfurnished home for the first time and every bit of furniture I’ve bought bar one is second hand. I’ve scored some absolute beauties for pennies, and in some cases, even free thanks to Facebook Marketplace. I’ve met some wonderfully kind individuals giving things away because they wanted to help someone and I’m so grateful. Even now with each new item I get it still hits me that I can’t share all of this with her and tell her the stories of each piece of furniture I add to my gradually growing collection. Stories like the corner unit that we struggled to fit through the front door and ended up in frustrated hysterics at the bottom of a flight of stairs, leaping out of the house to not miss a newly placed advert or the 3 pieces that belonged to a girl’s grandparents that were given away for free because she wanted them to do someone a good turn and told me to give them a good life when I offered to pay her. I know she’d love every second it.

Happy Birthday The Charity Shop Queen.

Come Shopping With Me : My Weekly Supermarket Trip With A Focus On Saving Money & The Planet

Grocery shopping each week can be a bit of a chore but I like that my local Tesco Superstore means I can tick off quite a few errands in one hit thanks to their recycling options now. Below are a few ways I save money and try to make better choices for the planet on my weekly shopping trips.

Recycling Soft Plastics

Before I even enter the store my local big Tesco has a crate outside where they collect a variety of soft plastics which are then recycled. This includes things like cling film, crisp packets and the inner plastic bag inside a cereal box. When I first started collecting up bits like this it scared me how quickly it all added up and that I was throwing all of this in the bin to landfill previously. It’s a really easy habit to get into and one I’d encourage if your local stores offer soft plastic recycling. This has also made me aware of the amount of soft plastics I accidentally consume and prompted me to look at better options.

Recycling Make Up

Lately I’ve been clearing out my make up so have recycled some bits. On my last shop I’d emptied a mascara tube so took this with me to recycle in the Garnier x Terracycle bin which ensures nothing will go to landfill and will be recycled into useful products. These bins can be found in a variety of stores including branches of Tesco, Sainsbury, Superdrug and Boots.

Buying Loose Fruit & Vegetables

I’m pleased to see that Tesco are now offering more loose products with many being the exact same price per kilogram as packaged options. I don’t even bother with their paper bags and just pop things like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, bananas etc straight into my trolley. Buying like this also means you can get exactly how much you need lessening the chance of food waste. I spotted this weekend that it’s actually cheaper per kg to buy things like courgettes loose instead of the budget range which come in a plastic net – win.

Packing With My Own Bags

It’s been years since I bought a carrier bag as I always carry a reusable shopping bag with me and take several if doing a big shop.

Using Cashback Apps & Coupons

I use Green Jinn, Checkout Smart and Shopmium to get money off my groceries. These cashback apps are brilliant. Green Jinn alone has saved me over £110 this year. As well as using these to try new items and save money I use coupons. I usually pick up a free copy of the Tesco magazine as these have some coupons in that I’m often able to use. Recently I managed to get dairy free Greek style yoghurt for 80p per large tub instead of £2.20

Being More Mindful

Whenever I use something up I’m now trying to buy a more environmentally friendly alternative product. For example – I eat all of my Weetabix, discovered the inner film can’t be recycled so instead buy another cereal with a bag that is a recyclable soft plastic. Other changes I’ve made recently include washing up liquid which is biodegradable instead of “harmful to aquatic life with lasting effects”. Very soon I plan to take my own containers to deli counters for things like cooked meats to eliminate that area of plastic waste from my life altogether.

Comments Welcome

A Love Letter To Facebook Marketplace – How I’m Furnishing My Retro Home Cheaply & Saving Money On Just About Everything.

If it weren’t for Marketplace I can fairly confidently say I’d have deleted my unused Facebook profile by now. At the start of the year the wonderful Rhiannon behind the account Rolling With Rhiannon advised me to use Marketplace to browse low cost second hand furniture to kit out my home. I cannot express how grateful I am for these words of wisdom. Whilst some people may default to Ikea to furnish or decorate a home on a budget, I now flock to Marketplace. I have a borderline addiction and check the site at least once a day. Earlier in the year when my need for furniture was a bit more desperate I was on there 3 times a day, morning, noon and evening. It paid off.

Not only have I made some very easy sales to get rid of clutter but I’ve picked up some real gems for my home which I adore. They’ll always mean so much more to me than if I’d gone out and bought cheap flat pack items. Come to think of it every item of furniture I’ve bought this year for my home, bar one, is from Marketplace.

Free Items I Got From Marketplace

I’m a huge fan of a bit of retro, mid century, teak furniture. The original G Plan, Parker Knoll Nathan and Schrieber furniture brings me so much more joy than the Ikea staples, although I’m aware they have their time and place. I saw an advert for a giant mid century wall unit for free around 20 minutes from me. I wasn’t in the market for something this giant but as it was listed for free I clicked on it. By reading the description I discovered the ‘seller’ was having a house clearance and more items were available which she then sent photos of throughout the day. Upon arriving at the property first thing the next morning I saw even more furniture in the same style and left with 3 items for zero cost. I was so pleased and grateful that I tried to pay her but she wouldn’t accept anything for the units which are in excellent condition. I was just told that her relative would have wanted them to do someone a good deed and give them a loving home which made getting them even more meaningful. Whilst there, as she was trying to avoid paying someone to take things away, I was offered to rootle through kitchenware etc for anything I’d like at no cost.

My free furniture acquisitions don’t stop there. I also scored a dining table which seats 6 to 8 people depending on whether it is extended or not. There are no signs of fading on it and minimal scratches that once table mats are on there no one would ever notice. It’s almost an extra bonus that these items I’ve got were free because I adore the style and would happily buy them over new furniture.

4 furniture items later and my lounge is significantly more habitable. I’m a huge plant lover and have had a spider plant on my list to add to the collection for some time. A 15 minute walk round the corner and I was able to pick up 6 plant cuttings and 1 parent plant at zero cost from a lovely lady who told me when leaving to message if I struggled at all to keep them healthy. I passed 2 plant cuttings onto friends and the rest add some cheerful bright green to my home.

Low Cost Items I Got From Marketplace

Before picking up the 3 free units from the house clearance I’d bought a corner unit in the same style for £20 on Marketplace. This will be going in my lounge along with the others, I’m planning to pop my TV on this.

I also got 4 beautiful mid century style dining chairs which have a lovely curved wooden shaped detail in the backs. I’d seen these online selling for anything from £125-200+ and I paid £40 for mine. The seats looked a little worn but they were sturdy and had no other major defects. A quick whip round with a staple gun and some new fabric and they were everything I wanted them to be. This means my dining set cost under £80, the table was free, the fabric I bought online at a reduced rate compared to an upholstery shop and the chairs were obviously just £10 each.

I was able to get a nest of 3 coffee tables which are in keeping with the style I love for my lounge for £20.

I picked up a giant human sized Pixar floor lamp which retailed new at over £80 for £20. I was even more thrilled with this when I happened upon a virtually identical shaped lamp in DFS for £224 and I prefer the colour of mine! It makes a real statement whilst being fun.

The Final Word

All told, so far, I’ve got:

  • 3 side tables
  • 1 dining table
  • 4 chairs
  • 1 corner unit
  • 3 teak units
  • 1 floor lamp
  • 6 plants

For a total of £125 (not including the fabric cost for recovering the chairs) which wouldn’t even cover the DFS duplicate lamp!

It’s important for me to stress, my Marketplace habit isn’t just about saving money. Throughout all areas of my life I’m really trying to make better choices for the environment and buying second hand ticks this box. I haven’t made any compromises by purchasing these items at all. If I had to choose between the items I now proudly own or modern, white styles seen everywhere if they were both priced identically and I’d opt for the retro style every time. Marketplace has made my money go so much further, allowed me to meet some very thoughtful, kind individuals and helped me feel like I’m lessening my environmental impact. Win win.

Comments Welcome.

Eco Effort Round Up: Recent Recycling Scheme Discoveries, Zero Waste Laundry Product Swaps, Packaging Free Supermarket Options & More.

I’m really trying to do by bit for the planet without hugely increasing my spending and decided to write bi-monthly posts on the recent eco efforts I’ve made. I remember in school many ears ago being really upset by the deforestation of the Amazon and wanting to do something about it so these little swap wins really make me happy as I know I’ve taken small actions rather than doing nothing at all. I’ve had quite a summer clear out and with every eco swap I make the more conscious I am of the rubbish that is still left. I find products designed to help the planet often fascinating such as packaging made from sugar cane, which is sustainable and totally recyclable. Some inventions completely blow my mind, one of which is included in my recent discoveries. I’ve found better ways to “bin” things as well as some low cost swaps that will lessen my impact on the planet. Read on to find out more.

Decluttered Make Up & Recycled The Items

Garnier have partnered with Terracycle to pop cardboard bins across the UK to collect unwanted make up items. I’ve seen a few of these bins in larger supermarkets as well as Boots and Superdrug stores making them very easily accessible which I love. Whilst having a good sort through my make up this month I decided to be brutal on a declutter by being really honest with myself about how long I’d had items, when I’d last used them and if I was likely to again. I popped deposited them in a Garnier bin that I found. To give an idea of how easily I’ve found these I’ve so far come across 3 in my local area in supermarkets or Boots and I don’t live in a big city. I was pleased to see the bins were quite full so people are engaging with the scheme.

This month I discovered that The Body Shop have relaunched it’s recycling programme to help recycle trickier skincare and beauty packaging. They’ll accept items from any brand which I think is fantastic and I’m keeping any awkward to recycle items to one side to deposit in store.

Discovered Packaging-Free Options At Supermarket Counters

I reached out to supermarkets via Twitter and had both Tesco and Sainsburys confirm that they’re happy for customers to bring in their own containers for shop assistants to fill at their counters to avoid the use of plastic bags. I’m so pleased this is an option as although I don’t eat meat that often for convenience I tend to buy cold cooked meat packs weekly. That’s one more plastic-free switch for me!

More recently I’ve made a really effort to cut back on the amount of plastic in my weekly shop. I’ve used my own bags for years but in the last month I’ve made a real point of sticking to packaging free fruit and vegetables. I’m pleased to see more options are becoming available although I’ll forever roll my eyes at why cucumbers need to be shrink wrapped in plastic?! My local Tesco has varieties of potatoes, broccoli, carrots, apples, bananas, citrus fruits etc without packaging so I’m trying to stick with those and shop seasonally as this keeps costs down also.

Ordered More Wild Refill Deodorant Blocks

I placed my first online order for 3 blocks of deodorant from Wild Refill. I used the discount code they gave me for my blog which is NOT affiliate – FSFARD20 to get 20% off. Delivery was free. I’ll admit they are more expensive than the deodorants I used to buy at £1 a pop but these have zero plastic waste, I love what the brand stands for as well as their fundraising efforts and the products are highly effective for me. I’ve not struggled with any skin irritation and much prefer the scents I’ve tried already to any deodorant I’ve used previously so I don’t mind paying for these at all. Quite a lot of eco swaps I’ve made have worked out much cheaper e.g. bar soap over plastic bottled shower gels so for me it all balances out. Given the name of my blog, Forever Saving For A Rainy Day, I think it speaks volumes about this product that I’m willing to pay a bit more for this eco swap.

Discovered More Ways To Recycle Soft Plastics

Since the start of the year I’ve been collecting anything labelled as “recycle with bags at larger stores” and doing exactly that. I was slightly amazed and horrified how quickly these things added up. I didn’t realise until very recently that you could also chuck crisp packets into these collection bins as well as things like clingfilm. Whilst I don’t use clingfilm I am quite partial to crisps so this was a nice discovery to reduce what I send to landfill. I tend to take my items to Tesco as this is most convenient for me but I’m aware the Co Op also offer a similar service.

Bought An Eco Egg For Laundry

After posting that I intended to make this switch quite some time ago my laundry capsules finally dwindled and one of my amazing Instagram followers messaged me to say they’d seen the Eco Eggs on a stunning deal in Home Bargains. I was able to pick up an egg which is suitable for sensitive skin, approved by Allergy UK, fragrance free and capable of doing 720 washes for £4.99 instead of £24.99. 720 washes is due to last 3 years if doing 4-5 loads a week. At most I do 2 so not only if this a magnificent way to save the planet, it’ll also save me a fortune if I get on with this. I genuinely legged it to Home Bargains the morning after I was told about this deal for their opening time I was that excited. The egg itself is made with recycled plastic, the inner packaging is recyclable and the more I read about it the more impressed I was. It’s non toxic so not harmful to aquatic life also. The egg itself is surprisingly light. A housemate of mine had one, I never heard it in the washing machine, she struggled with eczema and this didn’t flare it so I’m almost embarrassingly excited to try this. I’m hoping this is goodbye plastic for my laundry! Needless to say in time a egg review will be coming.

What To Do With Unwanted Beauty Products To Reduce Waste & Save Money – Including How To Repurpose Skincare

Have you ever bought a hyped skincare product, not loved it anywhere near as much as you’d hoped and now its collecting dust and taking up space as you’re no longer using it? Now consider this thought across all your make up, skin care, hair and beauty items. I’m thinking perfume samples that weren’t to your personal taste, skin care products that just didn’t agree with you and more. Over a year ago when having a giant clear out I was hit with this exact dilemma and found a few ways to safely rehome or repurpose items as it felt horribly wasteful to just throw them out.

Consider A Swap With Friends and Family. A friend purchased a pink shampoo and conditioner from Bleach London that I’d been really keen to try and didn’t like the results. She kindly gifted me the partly used bottles that I planned to buy new as they would otherwise go to waste. In exchange I traded her some perfectly usable bottles of nail varnish from Essie that I no longer wore. We were both happy with the trade and this saved me around £15. I’ve also previously gained a Lancome lipstick from a relative in exchange for a deluxe free sample of Elizabeth Arden skin care I’d collected but was unsuitable for my skin type.

In the past I’ve also filled up shoe boxes with partly used hair styling products, hotel miniatures, lipsticks, new hair elastics in a colour I wouldn’t use that came in a multipack etc and posted these to friends happy to receive these goods. In exchange I received “care packages” with copies of glossy magazines, hot chocolate sachets, craft supplies etc that they know I’ll appreciate. It’s a fun way to have a clear out and exciting to see what you might receive in return. The trick with these is to not spend any money apart from delivery costs as its more about the thought than the price spent.

Look Up Charities that are able to accept unwanted toiletries as this saves landfill waste and can benefit others in need. It’s also worth reaching out to your local women’s refuge centres to see if anything you have is likely to be of use to them as another option. I think this is a great option for any beauty items received as unwanted gifts. I’ve also seen some people on Instagram saving up free samples of things such as sanitary towels and period products to then donate to shelters which I think is a lovely idea as it’s a great way to help people in need at no cost.

Get Creative With Repurposing

Below are just a few examples I’ve done when I’ve had skincare products which my face hasn’t enjoyed but I haven’t wanted to waste them.

  • Facial SPF – use on your neck or body
  • Liquid Exfoliants – I used up the last of a glycolic acid toner on my legs where I had some bumpy uneven texture as it was too strong for my face. I noticed some slight improvements and it meant no product was wasted.
  • Cleansers – in the past I’ve used up simple gel cleansers that I haven’t loved to wash my hands with. I appreciate this doesn’t work for all formulas though. I’ve also used cleansers with acne fighting ingredients like salicylic on my body, in particular after noticing uneven texture spots on my legs. Some may also work well to clean make up brushes.
  • Moisturisers – again can be used on your neck, hands or body. I’ve found smaller, simple moisturiser formulas are great to chuck in a handbag to use as hand cream which is a luxury I wouldn’t normally buy.

Recycle!

I’ve written an entire blog post on ways to recycle beauty products and empty packaging previously. Most of these schemes are now very accessible and some come with financial rewards which is an extra bonus to knowing your unwanted items aren’t going to end up in landfill. Garnier launched make up recycling bins nationwide in some supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury as well as in drugstores. Despite not living in a big city I’ve come across three of these on my travels. John Lewis also offer a beauty recycling scheme for any branded packaging as do Boots. For full details and more examples please check out my earlier post.

Comments Welcome