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(MCT)—There’s an important life lesson I learned pretty quickly after becoming a mother. It’s as simple as this — not everything you buy needs to be brand new. I figured this out when new clothes and new toys lasted only a few months or even a few weeks. However, this idea that not everything you buy needs to be brand spanking new can be applied to nearly everything in your life. To help you save untold resources and money, Do Your Part and check out my Top 5 List of Things to Buy Used.

1. Home accessories
Home accessories like lamps, vases, art, and picture frames are usually overflowing from the store shelves. Buying these items used is a great way to update your home without blowing your whole budget. When shopping for new decorative accents, look for versatile pieces that can work double duty. For example, a large clear vase is perfect for all seasons since it can be filled with whimsical sand dollars in the summer or brightly colored holiday ornaments in the winter.

2. Books
If you have a voracious reading appetite, secondhand bookstores could be right up your alley. Used books sell for a fraction of the retail price and with a bit of hunting can be found in good condition. And don’t forget about textbooks either. Many college students will attest to the fact that a few highlighting marks are certainly worth the discount. You can find used textbooks in college bookstores and plenty of places online.

3. Sports gear and exercise equipment
Buying used sports gear is always a bargain. Some shops offer discounts as steep as 75 percent off retail prices. Many sports resale shops sell used exercise equipment too. There are also online sites that specialize in gently used equipment for every activity.

4. Kids’ clothes
Kids grow out of clothes so quickly that buying new ones can put a serious dent in your wallet. One way to save money is to buy gently used clothes. There are many resale shops that cater to specific age groups no matter how young or old your children may be. You can also trade clothes online and find the perfect outfit for your child in online auction sites.

5. Wood furniture
Quality wood furniture is a bargain shopper’s dream. Practical pieces like desks, tables, and bookshelves are always rotating through the inventory. Used furniture is more likely to have released any volatile organic compounds used in construction that can pollute your indoor air. Plus quality wood furniture will last for years.

Do Your Part when you shop and first consider whether buying new or used is the better route to go. It’s better for your wallet and your peace of mind.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part,” a practical guide for everyday green living available at

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