Julia L F Goldstein

How Are You Changing the World?

Secondhand Goods, Secondhand Art

When I had diseased birch trees cut down in my backyard a couple of years ago, I saved some of the wood. One of the pieces, in particular, captivated me. It’s shaped like the number nine and would make a great top for a small table or footstool. I’ve gone so far as roughly sanding it. But it still lies in my garage not fulfilling its promise as a conversation-starting piece of furniture.

I’m thinking about this piece of wood because of two books I’ve read recently. Both books will appear in the resources section of my upcoming guidebook on smarter recycling and waste reduction.

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter serves as a reminder and inspiration for everyone who has too much stuff in their house, closets, or garage. This bestselling book is both a perspective on how humanity’s relationship with material goods has changed and a collection of stories of people dedicated to helping solve the problem. Those who clear out homes that have been accumulating junk for decades are doing the deceased owners’ heirs an enormous favor.

I’m by no means a hoarder, but I see plenty of opportunities to declutter. After researching waste and resource use for a few years now, I consider each purchase more carefully. Books seem to be one exception: since embarking on my journey as an author, my desire to read for both research and relaxation has grown. I also believe in supporting other authors by buying their books. I do, however, often choose eBooks.

The other book I just read is Start a Creative Recycling Side Hustle: 101 Ideas for Making Money from Sustainable Crafts Consumers Crave. As author James Dillehay points out, the market for handmade goods made from recycled materials is exploding. The book is full of practical advice for artists and aspiring artists wanting to jump on board.

Dillehay devotes several chapters to marketing via social media, so it’s somewhat fitting that I found out about his book in the Nonfiction Authors Association Facebook group. His post about achieving #1 Amazon bestseller ranking in several categories, one month before his book release, caught my attention. I reached out and requested an Advance Reader Copy (ARC). The book launch is scheduled for February 29, so there are still a few days to pre-order the book for 99 cents.

Start a Creative Recycling Side Hustle covers all aspects of making a go at selling your art: ideas for products, how to set up a business, and marketing advice including pricing, where to sell products online and in person, website strategies, and more. He includes an extensive list of resources and examples from his experience selling handmade items and stories of other artists.

I imagine that some of my readers may want to pursue an environmentally friendly artistic venture. If that’s you, let me know how it goes and whether Dillehay’s book helps. If you instead want to learn more broadly about secondhand goods, check out Minter’s book. As for me, I’ll continue to visit consignment shops to buy clothing. I’ll also stick with my writing business rather than venturing off into selling handcrafted art. But that piece of wood is calling to me.