Why do I love secondhand and used goods? The first reason is because I am able to buy clothing and furnishings for my home without breaking the bank. Second, it keeps things from the landfill which is better for the environment. Third, because finding a new use for an old item is very creative and fun.
Re-using items is a family thing. My grandfather was a child in the depression and all his life he has continued to resuse and recycle EVERYTHING. I used to make fun of him as a child when he would use an old gutter turned upside down as a light fixture in his rental homes. He would use flourescent bulbs because they used less energy. He used scrap metal and wood for building projects. Nothing went to waste. My grandfather was not poor. He retired from a very good job and saved and invested very well, but you would never know it by the way he has always lived. Living this way has not been difficult for him. He and his family lived well. He built a vacation cabin out of many recycled materials. Nothing went to waste and he was better off for it.
My father also has a knack for finding a beat up piece of furniture on the side of the road and see it's potential and restore it. He can also look at scrap and see a second life. I married a man with a similar quality.
My aunt gave my father and husband shutters from her old barn. Both turned them into headboards. See photos. My dad's is the white more traditional version. My husband's is the black more modern version with lights behind it. Same material, totally different concepts.
Change your perception. I have known so many people that would think picking something up on the side of the road or buying things at a thrift store would be gross. They probably think that new is the only way to go. This makes me sad. I find the quality of most new items to be sub-standard unless you pay a fortune for them. Many of my new furnishings purchased from chain stores are falling apart after a few short years. We sold off most of our newer furniture to my brother-in-law because I hated it (his gain).
Try to change your thinking about used. Think of it as better quality. Going green is also very popular right now so if anyone asks you why you are picking that old desk up off the side of the road in the pooring rain (like I have), tell them it's because you are going green.
What can you do? Always keep an eye out for items that can be re-purposed. There are many areas (ie, fancier neighborhoods) that throw perfectly good items out with the trash. You might not know what to do with the item right away, but take it home and give it time. You can even give it to your handy spouse or parent and let them have some fun like I often do. In the end, you may have a beautiful conversation piece for your home and you will save some space in the landfill.