Get Your Stuff Secondhand to Save the World in 2018

by - Saturday, January 06, 2018

Remember a couple of days ago when you were going to give up caffeine? How tired are you right now? These resolutions can be nearly impossible to keep, but I have some resolutions on deck that can make your life better without making you hangry or a caffeine-deprived zombie. These ideas will save you money and have a positive impact on the Earth.

Maybe you are saying to yourself, "Self, I don't actually care that much about my impact on the Earth. I find environmental stuff pretty boring. I don't know why I clicked on Barbara's stupid blog." I hear you friend, but these are things worth doing. They will absolutely make your life better now, but they will also make your life better 30 or 50 years from now. For nearly no effort. Let's do this. 

Goodwill Vases shopping shelves

5. Fall in Love with Anything Used.
Fall in Mad, Passionate Love with Buy Nothing

When I was a kid, having used clothes meant you were a real charity case. Even in high school, I had a few used pieces, but they were mostly attempts to be quirky and make old man slacks happen for teenage girls (like many of my efforts at starting fashion trends, it did not work). If our generation wants to do better than our parents did, removing the stigma from buying things used would be a miraculous and powerful first step.

Because there are already so many things in the world, and the more we reuse what we already have, the more we save from landfills.

How It Helps You

Secondhand items are cheaper. You can buy things that are actually built to last for the same amount of money (or less) than the JUNK you would buy in most stores.

For example, a pair of Old Navy little boy jeans cost 20-30 dollars a pair. At my favorite consignment shops, a pair of jeans from the Gap, J Crew, or even 7 for mankind usually goes for 11-13 dollars. At Goodwill or Value Village, usually less than ten. 5 pairs of jeans per size, I have probably saved at least 50 dollars for better stuff.

And now you don't even have to have good consignment nearby. If you don't have anywhere nearby that sells much, you can also try Thred Up (boys jeans- 8 to 14 dollars). Ebay, and more online consignment.

But I can do better yet! If I get them on my local Buy Nothing group, I can get all the jeans my son needs for free. The Buy Nothing Project is a large set of hyper local groups where you gift your stuff or ask for things you need with your neighbors. We have got furniture, playhouses, and a solid percentage of our most-loved toys through this.  Facebook has lots of options for getting things secondhand, from Buy Sell Swap groups, Freecycle groups, online flea markets, and more. It is so easy and you can get things SO CHEAP.

So yeah, save way more money. Like hundreds of dollars a year. Pretty fun benefit.

How It Helps the Earth

Our Earth has too much damn stuff on it. Getting stuff secondhand shaves that excess down, little by little. It is one of the best ways to help the Earth, because it cuts down on waste, and anyone can do it because it is cheaper than not. And the more you shop secondhand, the more good that we can do. More than we can even imagine.

Most companies have one goal. To make money. They do this by using cheap unethical labor, cheap materials, and wasteful shipping across the Earth. They have to keep their prices super cheap, but you know what is often cheaper? And better made because it has already survived years of use? Thrifted furniture, kitchen tools, toys etc.

I can buy a plastic shopping cart toy from Target for 35 dollars. Or I can get the same basic toy for 5 dollars at Goodwill. And then give it away. That means at least three children played with the same toy. So at least 2 parents didn't go buy a new one. That's at least 2 toys less in the landfill. 2 toys less using the fossil fuels for shipping (yes, they aren't taking separate trips, but these things add up). 2 less sets of brand new packaging (damn you, twisty ties!). The more passes a toy gets, the more it helps the Earth.

Creating an economy where we devalue newness has so much power. Stop treating reuse as something charitable. It can be that, but it is also one of the ways we can help everyone.

How to Do It

Want a ridiculously easy resolution for 2018? I have a couple for you and they will all save you money and save the world from waste. So pretty kickass.

Just Try One

Go to a consignment store or thrift shop nearby and just see what they have. You can find so many things used. Refurbished electronics. Toys. Picture frames. All of the wood furniture ever. Go explore and be surprised. Set a goal to just go to 1 (or 3 or all) nearby consignment shop this year.

kitchen supplies at goodwill

Make a Goodwill (or another consignment store) Your First Stop

 Have a shopping list? Stop at a consignment store first. You can find every kitchen gadget, housewares, picture frames, chairs, and so much more at the consignment store. 

Treat buying things new as a last resort instead of a first stop. It will save you money and change your life.

Donate the Hell out of 2018

For 2017, we tried to give 2,017 items from our house in what we called the Great Donate. We didn't quite make it, but we are trying again in 2018.  This sounds like a lot, but it is less than one percent. The more you consign and donate, the more is available in an economy of reuse. If you aren't using it, let someone else have it.

children's playhouse from buy nothing
we got this on buy nothing for free

Join a Buy Nothing or Freecycling Group

 YES. If you haven't heard of the Buy Nothing Project, you are missing out. These facebook groups allow you to freely gift with your neighbors, so you can ask for things you need or offer things you want to get rid of. Check out the groups page to see if there is one in your neighborhood. If there is, joining is just a few minutes of your life, and you won't regret it.

No luck? Still look around! Even small communities have freecycle, flea market, and yard sale type pages on Facebook. There are already groups out there to help people share or sell their things.

Brag about it

If you buy something used, don't be ashamed about it. So simple, but it makes a difference. You could resolve to brag about 3 used purchases this year. Help shift the stigma around secondhand.

beautiful secondhand dresses

Try Thred Up or Rent the Runway

 If you are saying to yourself "Self, I have been to the consignment stores and they suck for clothes" try Thred Up. This site has tons of clothes for women, children, and pregos (especially practical to not waste money on clothes). You could also try Rent the Runway, where you can borrow a beautiful dress and then return it. Bam! When you need to buy something, try these sites first. Once. And Done! Look how much you can accomplish!

These are all dresses bought secondhand- one from thred up, one from value village, and one from rent the runway. You can get beautiful things.

ALSO Rent the Runway has a big sale of stuff once a year, which I think every teen girl should go buy an amazing prom dress and every woman can buy an event dress, if she really wants to buy. You can buy someone accessory gifts for next year. You can get clothes at 10% of the price that have been so lightly used. And that sale is now. So check it out.

To Go Even Bigger

 Start a Buy Nothing Group in your neighborhood (or offer to volunteer as a moderator). I have been begging you all to do this for months! Let this be the year you go for it, because it builds community, cuts down on waste, and is all kinds of awesome. It is a time commitment, especially in the beginning, but you can count it as a good big thing you are doing for the world in 2018.

get your stuff secondhand to save the world in 2018

Buying used (or getting used for free on Buy Nothing) can be totally life-changing. I love the feeling of keeping things out of landfills, the challenge of finding things to reuse instead of brand new, but the saving money part is also pretty awesome. Check what options you have for 2018!

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