Second Hand Shopping: Good for the Environment and your pockets

Well, the recession may have officially ended; but as far as a lot of us in this jobless recovery are concerned, things seem to only get tighter by the year. They are even predicting a second recession next year. We’re like our great-grandparents were in the depression –trying to make everything will go as far as possible. No one wants to spend money on buying anything new for no reason now, which is great for the environment, by the way.

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On average, every person in America today spends about $50 to get through the day –for everything together. How do you get by on so little, you ask? You get by, by fixing things when they go bad instead of throwing them out, by cutting down on anything but the essentials, and when you need to buy something, by going to look at secondhand shopping places first.

You keep reading about how the retail sector is suffering because of the recession and how people refuse to buy unnecessary stuff. Well, there is one kind of retail that’s actually growing pretty well –secondhand shopping. Secondhand shopping businesses like Goodwill Industries International have been growing at twice the rate regular retail businesses have. Value Village, Salvation Army –it’s boom time for all of them.

But ask the experts, and they believe that while this newfound enthusiasm for secondhand shopping does owe something to the recession, it isn’t all about the recession. Even before the recession began, Americans did show a distinct tendency to favor us secondhand stuff and thrifty spending. Let’s see how the world of the Internet is helping America switch its preference from “all-new all the time” to “secondhand as often as possible”.

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Consider the website NeighborGoods (you know, like neighborhoods, except with a “g”!). Can you guess what they do? This is where people in every neighborhood register what they have on the website, that they would like to rent or rent out, and wait for people to call.

It’s actually a wonderful idea –if you want to borrow something, usually, you’ll find someone in your neighborhood a couple of minutes’ walk away, who has it. What you need? An extra suitcase for a trip? A power tool for a little job? A CD of a Dolly Parton song you’ve been looking for? An extension cord? A tent in the backyard for the kids to play all day? You’d be surprised how many people want to help other people out lending or selling all this stuff.

One of the best such secondhand shopping websites is ThredUp. Everyone has clothes in the family that their children have outgrown because, you know, because children tend to grow really quickly. What do you do with those clothes? You give them to the next family that has children of that age, of course. It’s a brilliant idea. And families have saved $1 million on clothing bills since the website started.


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