1) You save money.

Yes, if you have ever managed to find a skirt on the rack from Sportsgirl or Country Road that still has the original store tags and is less than half the price then the benefits (and buzz!) of finding a bargain are a given. This doesn’t always happen, however, without doing a little background research first – or being able to call in the expertise of others. Kylie Ofiu, author and expert on saving money has a story to back this up: ‘My brother picked up an opal looking necklace. There were two and he got them for seven dollars together. His wife actually sells real opal jewellery and it turned out one of those necklaces was worth $240.’

Don’t be being afraid of getting ‘hands-on’ when looking. With garments, try them on, check the zipper works, if any buttons are missing, if seams are worn in the crotch or armpits, does it need tailoring. All additional costs need factoring into the overall purchase price. Children’s clothes are a little less complicated – casting an eye over a piece is usually enough to see how worn it is, although elasticized waistbands do need to be checked, as do the adjustable ones. Kylie’s example is quite common: ‘My kids have had all brand name clothing such as Pumpkin Patch, Osh Kosh and more … then when they have grown out of them I have been able to resell them for more than I paid at the second hand store.’

2) You reduce the need for new materials to be used in order to replace that product.

It’s very easy to walk into a shop to find products or clothes that are brand new, gather these together, and buy without paying mind as to the journey they’ve taken in getting there in the first place. Books such as The Green Teen by Jenn Savedge and Shades of Green by Paul Waddington investigate this issue further. Estimates are pretty universal in declaring that one-quarter of all pesticide use in the world is for the cotton production, and a large percentage of this cotton is in turn genetically modified to counter pest problems that occur in crops. A heavily-used man-made fibre – nylon – doesn’t biodegrade as it is derived from oil. If these, or anything else, can be recycled or reused the need to make more is lessened as is the environmental impact from the pesticides.

3) You reduce the volume of material that goes into the garbage and consequently landfill.

Statistics show that in Britain 30kg of clothing is sent annually to landfill per person. That’s a lot! What’s tragic is that it’s said 99% of cotton, denim, corduroy, wool and linen clothes that are thrown away could actually be recycled. Australian numbers are a little harder to come by although the ABS says that two-thirds (66%) of all households recycled waste by taking some of their waste to central collection points. Of this waste, the most commonly taken were old clothing or rags (70%).

Though these numbers are old, it’s gratifying to see the ABS also saying that since 1996 the proportion of households reusing some waste has increased from 40% to 85% in 2003. Of this reuse, the most common items were old clothing or rags (41% of households). I would be pretty confident in thinking these numbers have only improved in recent years, especially given the shaky few years of the global financial crisis and the increase of the ‘vintage’ market.

And also many of us are embracing of keeping everything in overall perspective. On buying secondhand, from Shae, part of the attraction is “not contributing to the mass consumerism of always needing the newest things” and I feel similarly.

 

Why do you buy secondhand?

 

This post has been written as part of the ‘Thrifty Thursday’ partnership I have with Savers Australia – The Recycle Superstore in 2012. But today is Monday? Yes! It turns out I cannot add the days of the month together correctly!

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Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Crying in the Car: Reflections on Life and Motherhood.