Posted by: UrbanGreenGirl | October 18, 2008

How buying second-hand turns shopping into a green activity

Dining room table set

Second-hand dining room table set

I’ve been on the look out for the past few months for a quality dining room table set, and I tell you, nothing has been harder.  My boyfriend and I were going for 2 different looks, either an antique country style wood table or a modern design. The problem is, all the modern tables these days travel long distances from China (increases greenhouse gas emissions) and are made out of that fake, compressed wood. So even if the style is nice, the moment you get a nick on the side of it, it starts to peel away and voila, it’s damaged. Whereas a nick in a real wood table might actually add to its appeal and charm by making it more antique looking.

So we started our search in all local furniture design stores like Structube and Maison Corbeil where we found gorgeous tables but you would have to go into debt to afford them. Furthermore, the wood was not from sustainably sourced forests, was low quality or compressed.  We then looked at ultra modern glass tables but the majority of its chairs were only available in leather, which in my opinion, is not eco anymore for obvious environmental and ethical reasons. We then turned our searches onto FairTrade stores like 10 Thousand Villages where you often find furniture and décor objects coming from the Orient or Africa. Sure enough, we found a beautiful table from South East Asia which was recuperated from a burnt forest.  However, the table alone was $1800 and didn’t come with chairs.  So we lowered our design expectations and started looked at local department stores like The BaySears and The Brick.  Sure enough, the prices were better but we were faced with design that was better suited for say…well…grandparents, sorry grandma!  Having a deadline with the Canadian Thanksgiving coming up and family & friends coming in to town, we started stressing.

Our last hope was to search on the local classifieds; kijiji and craigslist.  Here, we were immediately surprised with the quality and price.  I guess buying at table set is a lot like buying a car, the price decreases 30%-40% when you drive it off the lot!  Now, we were looking at tables in great condition including 6-8 chairs for $600-$800 instead of $2000 brand new.

Within a day we had found and visited a couple who were selling their Acacia Wood dining room table set with 6 chairs and a wine rack for $700.  I swear it was the addition of this wine rack that made us flip!  I mean, here was a table that was in the same condition as anything we found in store, which included the chairs and a wine rack for less then the price of a table at retail!  The wood was beautiful, and most of all real. I do admit, however, that the fabric on the chairs, although in great condition, was not our style. But no big deal, I’ll get them reupholstered with the same guy that did my couch and then we’ll have a unique piece of furniture!

All and all, I can’t stress how happy I was to purchase second hand. I helped out a couple who were downsizing, stopped us from participating in consumerism, saved money and got a fantastic quality table.

Sometimes I think we forget that purchasing second hand is “green” and puts emphasis on reusing rather than buying. With the emergence of sites like Kijiji and Craigslist which have garnered great awareness in the last few years, I believe we are all on the road to being greener.


  1. Great post! I’ve used Craigslist for giveaways,i forget that it is a good source for selling also. i will try it next time instead of ebay.

  2. I’m glad you found what you were looking for! I’m in the same situation, I’m looking for a crib! New ones are either of horrible quality (who would put his brand new baby in a 500$ crib that looks like it’s gonna fall apart?), or they are really expensive (1000$ + for a bed that you will have to change in 3 years is crazy.)

    Or I can get a beautiful, solid second-hand crib that looks like new, made locally for under 300$.

    Buying second hand seems like a much better option to me!

  3. I just recently got into Craigslist….it’s awesome. We had an old mattress we wanted to get rid of….we thought about donating it to Sally Ann, but apparently they stopped picking up goods…the drop off place for large items is really far too, and we don’t even have a truck to transport it. So instead we offered our mattress for free on craigslist and within an hour we got rid of it….just like that. It would have otherwise costed us between 100 – 200 bucks if we wanted to hire a garbage disposal company like 1800-got junk to get rid of it. I save money, someone gets a free mattress and best of all, nothing goes to waste!

  4. I never thought about that but you’re all completely right. We can also use these classified sites to get rid of stuff for free, rather than sending it to the landfill. It always breaks my heart when I see furniture thrown out on the street to be picked up by the garbage truck when it could have easily been donated. Thanks for reading! 😉

  5. congratulating you
    I have entered as accident but this site so funny

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