09/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Going Vintage is Going Green

Every time I visit any green living site I'm reminded of all the fancy advancements in technology that are constantly reflecting a more environmentally aware consumer. Heck, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to see coffee mugs made out of recycled bottles, backpacks with built-in solar panels, and refrigerators with energy star seals of approval. We've got engineers and scientists figuring out how to make products smarter, more sustainable, and better for the planet. This is all great, and I applaud the minds behind it, but has anyone looked around and asked themselves...

"Man, this sure is a lot of crap... don't we already have a lot of crap lying around?"

There are a lot of green gadgets out there, but in a world inundated with rampant consumerism, big box stores, and cheap plastic toys -- here's one a truly green alternative people keep forgetting about. Buying old.

Going vintage is going green. Whenever you buy anything retro, used, second-hand, vintage, whatever you want to call it -- you're doing us all a favor. You're keeping junk out of landfills, reducing your personal carbon footprint, saving yourself some cash, and possibly making your apartment a little cooler (c'mon who doesn't like knowing they have the only set of purple 1970's West Virginia iced tea glasses on the block, eh?)

Also, all that old stuff is simply better quality. When you buy something from an era when everyone had a tool kit, you know it was built to last a few dents and scratches. Repairs came with the territory. Plus, owning something you can maintain is already a step in the right direction. It's always a green choice to fix what you have instead of chucking what you broke. After all, You can't replace the microchips in your air conditioner, but you can unscrew the bolts in a fan from the 1940s. And let me tell you something, those fans are still working great after dozens of presidents and a couple wars. Something you can't say about that 10-cup coffee maker on sale for $16.99 at Wal-Mart.

So if we know the stuff at yard sales and antique malls is better quality, better design, and easier to repair... what makes so many of us want to buy new? Our egos? Pride? I think more than any of that -- it's habit. If we need a sweater we go to the store and look for sales. If we need a colander we do the same. But there are literally thousands of sweaters and colanders waiting for you from random vintage ware-slingers all over your state. If they look good, work well, and save you money... why not opt for old first?

So next time you need something, from a set of end tables to a moped, look around for what's already here. Go find something a little funky, a little fun, and help out Ol' Ma Nature in the process.