Ask Alexandra – April 2015

1) Hi, Alexandra,

I am interested in knowing which commodities you regularly buy used (to be honest, I have to smile at the irony that the Duggar family also promotes, “Buy used and save the difference.”) In our family of 6 (all children adopted), we shop almost exclusively for gently used clothing, shoes, and home items at resale stores. We also buy our vehicles used. Do you? Do you have close friends who exclusively purchased used vehicles? And what about your home? Did you build it, or did you purchase a pre-existing home? Thanks in advance.


Hi Thar,
How wonderful that all your children are adopted, and that you buy a lot of used goods.

To answer your questions: In the last 25 years, 4 of the 5 electric cars I have owned were bought second hand. My one gas car during that time period, a Toyota Corolla, was also used. My Chevy Volt was new, so new that it was the fifth car off the line (its VIN is 0005).

I have never built a home, and never plan to. I do not believe in building on virgin land.

90% of the dishes and glasses in our home were bought off Craigslist. A lot of our furniture was bought used and then reupholstered. I tried for months to find a used sectional couch, but could never find one with the L going the right way so eventually I gave in and bought a new couch.

My computer is refurbished, my ipad is second hand. The current cell phone I have was purchased new, because the store did not have a refurbished one to sell me and I did not want to wait to find one online. (I admit to having moments of “I cannot live one moment without this” when it comes to my phone, although Ian bought me my first smart phone and he bought me a refurbished one even though it was more expensive than a new one).

I do not buy a lot of clothes used. I own 4 sweaters, and two of them are from Goodwill and I LOVE them. My only turtleneck is from there too. I have 4 pairs of jeans, and one of them is from a second hand store (4 pairs of jeans seems like a lot, doesn’t it?). I have 2 dresses, 2 tshirts and one long skirt that are used, and they are all the more special to me because they were worn by someone else I do not even know. I have endowed them all with great karma and by extension the clothes have great karma!

It sounds like we have a lot of the same values!

2) Hello Alexandra!

My name’s Fabiana, I’m 38 and I fully approve your idea of one-child families (or couples with no children). I live in Brazil and I try my best to convince people around of this idea in order to improve our quality of life. Yeah! We must reduce the number of people in this planet, otherwise we’re gonna be eliminated completely. However, it’s depressing to see how ignorant people are. They see what is good for themselves. They are not able to think of us as a whole planet. People are so mean. Anyway, congrats on your vídeo about it (TED) and I do hope we become aware of it one day (soon!) – it’s really food for thought.

Fabiana Sicolin

Hi Fabiana,
Thank you for watching my TEDx talk. I am glad it resonated with you.

I believe the reason people are not aware of how important it is to stabilize (and, through smaller families, lower) the number of people on the planet is because they are busy just trying to survive. So many humans are just overwhelmed in their day to day lives! They are not mean – they just do not have the bandwidth to focus on the issue.

Human culture and our biology continually gives us the message that to succeed as a species we must procreate (Capitalism also sends us that message, because its credo is Growth is Good). This is an outdated perception (and a dangerous one), but I do not blame people for not yet understanding the seriousness of our plight. I hope and pray that the message will be heard in time. I fear that it will not, but I cannot give up!

I hope one day humanity’s philosophy will no longer be “We have to grow bigger to be better”. Until then, it is up to you and me to show that “Small is beautiful”.

Thank you for for writing,

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