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Why I shop second-hand

In a previous post, I compiled a list of tips and tricks for any beginner second-hand shopper. Since then I’ve been pondering a post on the ‘why’ question. Why should you go second-hand shopping when you can get brand new stuff for the same price?

The War on Waste documentary tipped the scale for me on this question. And I’ve also been having some really interesting conversations with all sorts of people lately about why they shop second-hand. Here is a collection of my personal and my friends’ reasons for second-hand shopping.

The cost saving

This is the number one reason why I and other people go second-hand shopping. In our local stores, you can often pick up an item for as little as one dollar. While there is no doubt that you can spend a lot of money at second-hand stores, with a little patience you can get great bargains.

It’s not just clothing though you can get cheap. Most stores in my region also sell kids’ toys, books, (small) furniture, and kitchen equipment. For example, I got my set-up to make soaps from a second-hand store. These items were a lot cheaper than from a regular store.

Admittedly, I haven’t bought any furniture from a second-hand store. This is mainly due to the fact that I can never find what I need. For furniture, I prefer online platforms like eBay (or Gumtree in Australia). My entire student apartment was furnished with second-hand furniture found on these platforms.

Brand diversity

Imagine this: you’re invited to a wedding and need a nice dress. You’re on a budget (for whatever reason) or there are only one or two stores that carry dresses. A second-hand store is extremely handy in this situation. Not only because you can pick up an item for little money (see above) but also because you will most certainly get a large variety of brands no other store can offer.

I used to shop almost exclusively at a certain Swedish clothes shop, wearing almost anything they had in store. Since changing to second hand, my closet has diversified. For the most part, I can’t even tell you the brand of any of my items. I don’t shop for a particular brand. You will find the odd mainstream brand but for the most part, there are items from labels you’ve never heard of.

I love the fact that I get to wear different items with different styles at the same time. I’m not limited to what one store offers.

Supporting charity

As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, most second-hand stores are part of a charity organisation. Most workers at the store will be volunteers. The money you pay for an item will go directly to the charity’s projects (minus the overhead costs).

This contribution to charity is another reason I shop at charity-run second-hand stores (and why I avoid independent stores). I’ve never been big on just donating money but buying something is different.

Reduce stress on the environment and on societies

And lastly, if I haven’t convinced you yet to go second-hand shopping, there are environmental and social reasons.

If you were to pay the same amount of money on a new item of clothing, you will not get quality that lasts. However, even those items have been produced somewhere and somehow. You can look at the production cost from an environmental aspect and consider things like water use, CO² emissions and chemical discharge. Or you can apply the social lens to the production process and picture the living conditions of those who sew cheap clothing. There is no denying it, affordable fashion has a price Рan environmental and a social one.

Second-hand shopping won’t change these costs but limit them by giving items of clothing a new (second) life. Most items sold in second-hand stores were bound for landfill but get a second chance. There, second-hand shopping not only reduces landfill but also somewhat levels out the environmental and social costs of an item of clothing.

And there is it, my reasons for second-hand shopping. Are you on board yet? What is your reason for shopping second hand?

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