Buying secondhand is a great way to repurpose and re-home items that may have otherwise gone to landfill. Plus there are loads of other bonuses that you simply don’t get when buying new. I challenge you to go “not new for the environment”
Adverts and marketing campaigns are designed to constantly prompt, remind, urge and persuade us to buy new things – Retailers spend mega bucks employing clever marketing techniques to have maximum impact on your spending habits. Secondhand shops and charity shops don’t treat you this way.
New products tend to come wrapped in layers, e.g. plastic shrink wrap, cardboard boxes, polystyrene protection, thin ties and much more to hold things in place and protect the product in courier. This includes larger boxes, pallet wrap, tensile strap, and packing tape. Secondhand products don’t require any of this.
Quality from previous decades
Products made in the ’90s and earlier – especially clothing, are more likely to be constructed with high-quality materials and even be made here in New Zealand. While you can still buy quality and locally made brand new items, they are often harder to find, more expensive, and come in a narrow selection designed to appeal to an exclusive market.
Pre-loved is pre-tested
Items that are still in good condition in a secondhand shop are essentially pre-tested for you. This often means a lower risk of wearing it out or breaking prematurely as new products can. Clothes that sag or pill after only a few washes is a great example. Clothing in a secondhand shop that isn’t saggy or pilled, has already passed the test.
Cost-effective & budget-friendly
Shopping second hand usually means cheaper prices than the equivalent in a new shop. The exception, of course, are works of art, limited edition products, collectibles and antiques that increase in value over time. It depends what you’re looking for, but in the case of clothing, home supplies, sports gear and more, you’re almost guaranteed to find an amazing deal.
Most secondhand shops are owned by local people or local charitable organisations. So their profits go towards things you know you want to support. For example the family of the business owner, or a local animal shelter. Who knows where the profits of larger retailers go?
Avoid the landfill
Buying second hand lengthens the lifespan of perfectly useable items so they stay out of the landfill or risk being wasted other ways, like being burnt.
Reduce the demand for new products
Buy second hand to reduce the demand for new products – in theory, this should translate to lower outputs by large manufacturing companies, which in turn means fewer emissions and truckloads being delivered to stores, and so on. The corporates who operate manufacturing may freak out a bit and panic about a slowing economy – they’re forgetting the economy isn’t the be-all and end-all of living a healthy life.
Isn’t it ironic how the materials we make products out of these days can last thousands of years longer than natural materials, yet their useable life span in our possession is much much shorter because they break, go out of fashion, or our children simply grow out of them? The exception to this, of course, are things made from materials like metal or bone. e.g. metal kitchen utensils can technically last forever and when they’re blunt or bent, they can be repaired or reforged into new products. The key is knowing about each type of material so you know how long it can last and what it can become in the future. If you want to research this field of science further, look up “Life Cycle Analysis” or “Life Cycle Assessment” (LCA).
Some materials to look into are metal, wood, composite wood (MDF and fibreboard), solid plastic, soft plastic, polyester, poly-anything, cotton, wool, viscose, melamine, nylon, paper, cardboard, china, glass, cork and cane amongst others. Find out what these materials actually are, what they do to the environment to decide whether you really want to own them or not.
Buying second hand can take a little more time and a little more brainpower filtering through the range on display, but the results are totally worth the effort. So next time you’re in the need for something, consider your secondhand options before heading to your favourite chain store.