I like to think of myself as a friend to Mother Earth. Now I’m not out lying naked on glaciers to protest climate change, so maybe I’m more of a casual acquaintance. But I do use those cellulite enhancing light bulbs that last 100 years, I have fabric grocery bags, and I recycle as much as I can. Plus, I’ve signed up to donate my organs once I’m finished using them—the ultimate recycling program.

Of course I have no idea what is truly eco-friendly, I don’t think anyone does, but I have to say that buying less feels like a step in the right direction. Back in my days of pagers and paycheques, I bought a lot of stuff, and then I bought some more. In fact, I had no idea just how big a consumer I was until I resigned myself to carrying an empty wallet.

When I think back to the all houses we bought, gutted and rebuilt, my head starts to spin. I can’t imagine how many light fixtures and kitchens and boxes of tiles we consumed, not to mention how much waste we generated. Now I’m considerably better behaved, well, at least as far as dropping tons of cash at Home Depot is concerned.

I’ve taken on some rigid rules when it comes to purchases. One in, one out is my motto. If I want to bring a new whatever home, then I have to donate an old whatever. It’s a win-win-win strategy: I keep my possessions to a minimum, I have to really want something enough to get rid of something I already have, which keeps my spending to a minimum, and someone else benefits from my donation.

I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out in Switzerland, land of swank, but within days of settling in Vevey, I managed to find several second hand stores. Bear in mind one shop was showcasing a purple Hermés Birkin bag in the window, so maybe “consignment boutique” is a tad more appropriate.

Anyway, I treated myself to some pretty fine black boots a while back and that meant something had to give. I found my sacrificial lambs, carted them up to the local swap-n-shop and voilà, a month later I presented myself to collect my take of the deal: 30 Swiss francs. The very chic femme who runs the place invited me to look around while she collected my cash and that’s when my lofty principles flew out the fenêtre.

Finders, book your seat on the next Swiss Air flight because this is how they roll here. Denim blue Italian leather boots, hardly worn, and a $40 (!) price tag.

My first thought was it would’ve been irresponsible (criminal even) to leave them behind. And once a few French speaking ladies commented how jolie they were, well, those are my feet and that photo was taken in my living room, you do the math. For the record, I did leave two sweaters (and my 30 francs) at the shop, so I’m down 10 bucks but still ahead in my recycling and rationalization scheme.

Oh I’ve come a long way baby, from spendaholic to proud owner of 10 dollar boots. At least now I can say I know what it means to put myself in someone else’s shoes. If it’s good enough for Babs, then who am I to argue?