Ten Surprising Things You Should Always Get Secondhand

by - Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ten Surprising Things You Should Always Get Secondhand

Secondhand shopping is on the rise. People, especially young people who don't have a ton of money to spend, are switching brand new junk for older, secondhand items that will last. This is particularly true for fashion, as more and more people embrace thrifting.

When you think secondhand shopping, you would probably think of clothes first, but there are so many other things that everyone should be buying secondhand. It can save major money, but you may not immediately think to look for it used.

It's time to shift our mindsets, because we know that overconsumption is drowning our planet in stuff, especially plastic waste. The more stuff we buy, the more waste we make, because most of what we buy new was shipped and packaged in plastic instagarbage. Every item we buy secondhand skips this excess waste and even keeps useful items in use. In other words, the more we get used, the more we help the planet.

So, what could you be getting secondhand that you could totally find easily used? Just how much money are we throwing away here? Here are some ideas for things to get secondhand, but this is only the tip of the iceberg! Let's do this.

buy shoes secondhand

10. Shoes

I see a lot of online advice to not buy shoes secondhand, because they can mess with your gait. In theory, I agree, and I certainly wouldn't buy a pair of shoes that show a lot of wear, especially on the sole (you can replace the inserts inside).

That said, fast fashion now moves so fast that you can find any kind of shoe you want practically new. Someone barely wore them before they passed them on. I have gotten tennis shoes, Frye boots, and all of my flats secondhand on Thred Up. Secondhand shoes cost me a fraction of the price, they allow me to buy plastic-free leather shoes without the guilt of supporting animal agriculture, and they don't come with any plastic waste or send anything new to the landfills.

Seriously, if you haven't checked Thred Up for shoes yet, try it! The next time you need to replace something, you can keep an eye out on your size until what you need comes up. It works great for my kids too.

9. Cast Iron (and Other Kitchenware too)

Have a cast iron skillet? No need to ever get one new, you can find them secondhand in most antique stores, and once you treat it properly, it's completely safe to use. Cast iron will essentially last forever if treated well.

Even if you are looking for something else, you can often find it secondhand. For example, has your spouse been pining over expensive All-Clad pots and pans? Start buying them pieces from eBay. You can probably get them everything they need and save a thousand or more in the process. The best made kitchen stuff tends to last a very long time, so once the original owner is done with it, it may still have plenty of life left for you. Le Creuset, Silverware, Fiesta Dishes, and so much more can be found on eBay.

8. Picture Frames

Need a picture frame? Head to your local consignment store with a tape measure and track it down! You don't have to keep the art stored inside, just recycle the art, paint the frame if needed, and you have the perfect spot to put your art.

Super easy! You can find photo albums at lots of goodwills and thrift shops too. I have also found that Amazon's open box and used options still come up for photo albums. So why are you wasting money getting these new?

7. Tools

Think of all the well-meaning people out in the world who buy fancy sets of tools even though they aren't handy. All those tools eventually go somewhere. Instead, consider getting what you need borrowed from a neighbor, Buy Nothing, or even tool lending libraries (our local Home Depot has one- they are more common than you think).

If you are set that you need that table saw or monkey wrench, check out eBay or Craigslist. Because another person thought they were going to be a fixer, and now they are a tool seller. We all have those moments, but there is no reason for you to waste your money either. You can feel pretty confident that the hammer is probably pretty close to its original shape.

6. Vases and Mugs

Only a fool would EVER buy a vase new. I guarantee you can go get one at Goodwill. Probably for 50 cents. Seriously, if you ever need the world's cheapest housewarming gift, bring some wildflowers (free) in a goodwill vase. Super thoughtful, super cheap.

Mugs are the same- every thrift store has a million of them for CHEAP. Never waste your money on mugs from the store or Etsy. Buy a plain mug at a thrift store, and you can sharpie that cute saying on yourself. So easy!

buy holiday decorations secondhand

5.  Holiday Decorations

Do you love the holiday section at the store? Goodwill has one of those too, and it is usually amazing.

I just had a last minute shopping adventure in my very small hometown. Our local goodwill had 3 pairs of kids shoes in total. Pickings were slim.

They also had a MASSIVE holiday section, with tons of Halloween decorations and a small army of those plastic pumpkin head buckets. This is to say that even if your local store doesn't have a great selection of anything else, they probably still have a nice spread of (mainstream) holiday stuff. Easter baskets should be used. Christmas stockings. Candle holders. It's all there.

I do love a decoration, and my kid and I have a blast prepping our house for every season. We have just changed where we either make things ourselves or find it at a thrift shop. I also don't have to sweat it if our kids go crazy for a decoration- nothing is so expensive or precious that it can't stand up to their chaos!

buying Christmas gifts secondhand

4. Toys (especially gifts)

I never realized just how many toys you can get on Ebay secondhand until a few years ago. We saw a particular spaceship toy we really loved for my son's birthday. Instead of buying it right away, we took a picture and I looked it up on Ebay, just to give it a shot. We got exactly the same toy at a third of the price, and he could care less that it's a bit worn.

Your kid is obsessed with Paw Patrol? Anna and Elsa? Dinosaurs? Go put any of those things in on Ebay, and click the "Used" filter. You will have thousands of shopping options.  Your kid doesn't care! Why waste money?

On that note, if you want to take your kids out to pick out their own treat, check what consignment stores are near you. My kids call Goodwill "the toy store" - they leave elated with a new treasure, and I usually spend about 4 dollars.

It works for holidays too. There are worlds of hotwheels already available to buy secondhand. You can get them for a quarter or wrapped in plastic for 10 bucks. There's really no contest. We buy our stocking stuffers from the little plastic bags of toys at the wall on our local Value Village. We save oodles of money this way.

Garage sales, Buy Nothing, even just asking around with friends with older kids are all perfectly legit ways to get toys for your kids. If they value newness, it's only because we taught them to, so shifting the paradigm helps everyone (and cuts off even more plastic waste).

This is SOOO true for kids books too- even if you shop Amazon, you can usually find a secondhand option for 90% of what you are buying!

3. Wood Furniture

Need wood chairs? There are already like infinite wooden chairs hanging out in furniture consignment stores all over the world. With a little bit of browsing, you can track something down that you like. With a little bit of sanding and staining, you could have chairs you love forever.

This can be true on your neighborhood Buy Nothing group as well. We got our dining room table for free from a family with teens, refinished it, and it will be our family table through our kids' lives as well.

Any furniture you buy used is more furniture that isn't headed to the landfill. You can find things that fit your style, you can keep forever, and cost the same as the junk that you get at Target - definitely worth it to look secondhand.

2. Fancy Dresses

If you wear suits and tuxes, you can already usually rent the things you need, but for people who wear dresses, you are usually expected to buy event dresses from proms to weddings to more new every time.

It's a trap! Don't do it!

Obviously the first step in this is simply borrowing from friend's closets. If that won't work for you, start watching on Thred Up, Ebay (no seriously, pick a fancy brand you love and see what they have) and Rent the Runway for things you can buy on mega sale (Rent the Runway has a clearance section for their dresses if you don't want to rent). Check your local consignment shops. You could also rent something from Rent the Runway.

You get major, major bonus points if you do this as a bride/groom. Let your wedding party rent something, because no one actually needs a collection of bridesmaid dresses (but we all have them). Even better? Get your own wedding dress secondhand! There are tons of online and brick spaces that sell wedding gowns. You can save thousands of dollars (not to mention free yourself from a whole host of nonsense expectations).

Want more spots for secondhand fashion? Check out this post.

1. Everything for Baby (with 2 Exceptions)

You can (and should) get everything for your baby secondhand.

There are only two things that you might need to get new- the crib and the car seat. Literally everything else? Secondhand.

I wish someone had shared this wisdom with me before we had our first baby. We got so much stuff brand new (I can remember a hundred+ dollar splurge on the Carter's website, a baby shower of all new stuff, and more). Everything on your baby list can be acquired another way. The baby will absolutely not care. It saves money, but more importantly, it protects that sweet baby's future.

What is your favorite thing to get secondhand?

Ten Surprising Things You Should Always Get Secondhand

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  1. Thank for this awesome article! On my first long-distance-bike-tour in China I saw so many factories, so many people working there (and we all know about the work-conditions, don't we?) as well as the POLLUTION. I could smell and taste the air - in a really really bad way. I even had to go slower one day as it was nauseating!
    Since then I try to buy as little new stuff as possible by not making my life too hard - so I really admire people doing the compact.
    Around my place there is even a free table - you can drop off your still-okay things for other to use and pick up what you love or can make use off.
    By doing this and curbside-picking, I got new(-to-me) cups and glasses (living shared, stuff brakes occasionally), new pots (nothing fancy but a pot is a pot, right?), stationary (even enough to share with my roommates) and clothes.
    On the other hand - I love to drop off stuff there as well. It will still get used and not be stored or thrown away and hopefully keeps another person on buying new.
    I just hope that all this sharing culture is going to finally have an impact on the amount of things that are being produced. So far, I am happy to add as little to it as needed.

    I have one questions to your last point though - I totally get the "buy new car-seats for safety reasons" but I am not aware of problems regarding used cribs?



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