In 2012, after I had been running regularly for a few years and began going longer distances, I rewarded myself by going to the store and getting fitted with a brand new pair of running shoes.
Those New Balance Minimus shoes took me through many miles and three years, leaving nanobits of themselves behind me with each step. This year I began to think about replacing them, but couldn’t justify the $80-100 that would require, for at least three reasons: I’m not running long distances these days, we’re on a mission to pay off our 15-year mortgage in five years, and buying used is almost always my preference, based on ethical, environmental, and financial reasons.
So I began keeping an eye out for good-enough running shoes whenever I was at the thrift store. A few weeks ago, I found the New Balance 442s pictured, barely-used, for $5. I took about ten runs in them, and while they were not as high-quality as the Minimus shoes, for my purposes they would do.
Then last week, I found these also barely-used Nike Frees, a much better running shoe, for $7. Since I’m aware of the sunk-cost fallacy, I swallowed my loss aversion and bought the shoes. I’ve had several great runs in them already, and they are a significant improvement from the 442s. (Maybe I will get back to longer distances!)
Today I’m gathering up items to donate on my next thrift-store trip. While I just bought the 442s, I am gladly adding them to the donate pile. I don’t have a good use for them, and someone else can now get a great deal on these practically-new shoes.
In the end, I paid $12 in order to get a pair of $90 shoes, and all of that money went to thrift stores that make a difference in their community – one of them being a Habitat for Humanity ReStore – AND now I am re-donating a pair of shoes that will help the thrift store’s bottom line, give another person a good deal on a good pair of shoes, and keep that pair of shoes out of a landfill for a while longer.
None of this is earth-shattering, but it’s these little choices we collectively make all day long, every day, that actually do make a world of difference. And very often these choices integrate a whole list of values – physical health, environmental and social responsibility, frugality and simplicity among them.
I’d love to hear any stories you may have about everyday choices like this. Please share in the comments!