Shopping Second-Hand vs Buying New- What’s Better?

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  1. Suzannah Heimel says:

    The main reason I shop second hand is because I prefer to shop and keep my money local. I live in America where most products come from China. I work hard at purchasing local, non Chinese products, but it’s difficult. Purchasing second hand gives me many more options as the money I spend on the product stays within my country.

  2. Coral Clarke says:

    FaceBookMarketplace has worked well for me, biggest single drawback for someone who relies on public transport is that goods aren’t all clustered in an easily accessible shopping centre,and I can’t compare quality, colour etc.Nevertheless, I work within the parameters of my beliefs and accept it will be slower and harder this way, and I accept that authenticity comes st a cost (Damn it!) It is what it is!

    1. I really appreciate and respect your commitment. You’re proof that you can make this approach work sustainably. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Robin Engelberts says:

    I just came across your blog when searching for ethical, sustainable clothing brands.
    What I really liked about this article and the responses is that it is written very ‘open’ and honest.
    Lately, I am more and more interested in what ‘veganism’ is and means. I would love to learn more about it, but at the same time I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the internet (reading more about veganism).
    I would love to make the transition to veganism in the future. However, in this stage I see more the ‘problems’ (I’m currently living at my grandparents’ place > non-vegan food! etc.) / the ‘convenience’ of not thinking much about it.
    Sorry to be talking about myself this much: I felt encouraged by the comment section > (when you talked about having an open conversation with non-vegans).

    Love your blog. Love from the Netherlands. 🙂

    1. Hi Robin, I’m just catching up on comments. I get it. There’s the fine balance of over-consuming information and living your life—but it sounds like you’re mentally preparing yourself for transitioning which is encouraging! Oh, and you’re in the Netherlands. I hear there are so many vegan options there! Thanks for sharing your experience with us 🙂

  4. Jacob Askenbom says:

    I would like to chime in on the second hand leather topic!
    As you mentioned, if we as vegans consider “leather-like” styled items okay, then that would go against the argument that what we wear influences trends as from afar people who are susceptible to that can’t tell the difference.

    I am one of the vegans who considers second hand leather the most ethical option, as prolonging the life of a product is kinder to the environment, but that isn’t the main reason. The main reason is that through wearing second hand leather I find it easier to connect with non vegans and also to have a segway into talking about ethical shopping. Allow me to explain.

    Non-vegans discard veganism for a variety or reasons but one of them is what looks to them as “senseless purism”. It isn’t helpful to treat non-vegans in a patronising way, and most people aren’t so simple minded as to not understanding nuances. So when I wear my SH-leather, and people comment on them, I always take the opportunity to mention “Why thank you. I’m actually vegan but I think it is okay to buy second hand animal products for environmental reasons.” And as all is vegans know it is usually unwelcome to talk about veganism but I’ve found this almost always catches people’s interest. Probably because almost everyone thinks buying second hand makes sense, so this has always worked as a bridge for me. It is probably appealing to non-vegans too to have a way to buy leather which is a bit unfortunate but a huge win if I get someone to transition to getting more or even all their leather second hand and refusing to buy new leather on ethical grounds.
    I have actually found in my personal interactions that staying “pure” usually confuses non-vegans. As said (apart from those who just are defensive which I usually have success with through first finding common ground and taking care to not make them feel attacked) they think it is patronising when it is to not ‘muddy the waters’ for them because it is like simplifying a concept for appearances sake. They also feel confused when purity clashes with other important philosophies like environmentalism. All these things together have convinced me that second hand leather is in fact not just okay but an important tool. It is entirely possible to have a people become against animal cruelty while having them simultaneously understand that using up available animal products in the service of the environment doesn’t betray that.

    I apologise for the lengthy post. My point is that we have to work towards promoting veganism in a rational and realistic form, rather than pure and simplistic. Not only because the reality of things call for it but also because sometimes the simply and pure form also is simpler to discard when the complexities are brought up but not addressed. I do believe that anyone who is open to it can handle that complexity and more often than not, in my own personal experiences at least, admitting the complexities and offering the most ethical *compromise* is what has made opponents open up to the idea as they felt it became honest to them.

    1. Hi Jacob, thank you for taking the time to respond. I think you make some really interesting points.

      I too am a big believer in making veganism approachable and relatable when interacting with non-vegans. I also never assume people don’t understand the nuances of leather.

      I agree that SH-leather is a useful tool to provide an option for people interested in a vegan lifestyle. However, in my experience, I’ve had similar success promoting “vegan leather” alternatives. Because you’re right, people still ask because leather/vegan leather look the same. This is an opportunity to show people that there are alternatives. I also explain how many options are not sustainable, again, being realistic about what’s available. But I also explain the impact of animal skins—which is a cruel and unsustainable practice in its own right. I wouldn’t say these conversations come across as condescending, but more enjoyable for both parties to consider all aspects.

      In the end, I understand why vegans would be comfortable wearing second-hand animal fabrics (like my vegan wife), especially when you consider the waste. But I do believe both situations can result in positive discussions as a result of how we represent and brand ourselves as vegans.

      Thanks for chiming in and contributing to this article–I love discussions like these with multiple perspectives 🙂

  5. Every object we need has already been purchased by someone who no longer needs it. The challenge is to find it.

    I appreciate your deconstruction of the “to buy or not to buy second-hand,” thanks for sharing it! Over the last 15 years, I have done hundreds of peer-to-peer transactions on Craiglist (online classifieds) and other resale platforms, plus our local Buy Nothing Project group. Some objects I have resold for a decent price, many I have listed for a symbolic price just to zero-in on people who really wanted the item, and quite a few I have passed on for free. I have never ever had a transaction go badly, and I can count on one hand the ones that triggered any form of annoyance. Some transactions are quick and impersonal, but for the most part they are a great opportunity for community building and simply for meeting fellow humans who share the experience of living in our city.

    I don’t know if you have a Buy Nothing Project group in your area but if you do I warmly recommend joining it. They are a fabulous resource!

    1. Hi Brigitte, you’re welcome!
      There’s a lot to like about the experience you’ve had in these dealings over 15 years! You have a positive track record, and that has made me feel more secure about exploring second-hand shopping.
      I’m curious though, through being connected to these groups/platforms, have you ever found yourself acquiring more things than you need?
      And yes, there are some incredibly active Buy Nothing Groups in our city 🙂

  6. Rhea Morales says:

    Women generally will find a greater selection of clothing second hand than men. After my favorite thrift store for over twenty years closed in early September, I find myself wearing clothing longer than previously knowing that inexpensive replacements are less likely to be found. Shipping costs for second hand clothing may negate the savings, and when the item doesn’t fit, such as when you line dry clothing and others machine dry causing shrinkage, it wastes money. Public transportation in a rural area is not adequate, so I’ve purchased second hand vehicles. Most furniture and decor are second hand. It’s helpful to not engage in shopping new or used as a hobby or to socialize, but to buy items and services intentionally.

    1. Those are some great points, Rhea. I particularly like your last point. Second-hand shopping is power as long as we’re intentional about it. Thanks for sharing, as always 🙂