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Life without Plastic

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Buy It Used

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It's the gift-getting season...
Birthdays and gift giving/receiving are always a struggle for me. We have high standards as to what are acceptable gifts for our children and ourselves. No plastic, not wasteful, generally high quality, no electronic noise making toys, no electronics for young children, preferably made in US, and...used if possible. Yes, you heard me right. "Pre-owned", if that seems more elegant for you. Why do we prefer used? Read on, reader and see if you would rather be the man/woman wearing off the rack.

In no particular order:


  • Price
Used often cost less than new. This is especially true for cars, clothing, jewelery, cloth diapers, furniture, and books.
  • Quality
Used products are usually more durable, which is why you were able to buy them after someone else had already used them. They most likely were cleaned several times, so they can be less toxic than non-organic newer items, which usually aren't cleaned before shelving. I opt for buying used non-organic clothing and organic if I can find it, rather than new organic and pay the price.

Used items have also been on market longer, and so have been been tested for safety and have had the kinks worked out, think of the recent car recall fiascos. We just recently bought a used mini-van for commuting to investment properties. It is under 10 years old and had no recalls. Antique/vintage furniture is often better built, etc.


  • Packaging
Depending on how you purchase, used items can be less heavily packaged. If you go to a thrift store, a yard sale, an estate sale, or answer a local classifieds ad, than you will be dealing with price stickers, price tags, and maybe a plastic bag for grouping like items. If you buy online from EtsyAmazon, or Ebay, you may be able to contact the seller to send your item in just a used manila envelope or box, but with mixed results. I've had my share of misadventures with asking for "less packaging". See Plastic Free Vacuum Alternative post. I had some good results too with buying from MamaBearBabyWearSimpleGiftsToys, and Mama Made Them Etsy sellers, but Amazon sellers seem to ignore packaging requests.
  • More local
If you buy used items from a thrift store, a yard sale, an estate sale, a local classifieds ad, or get it free from your neighbor, than you are keeping the sale in your local economy (at least US based company), supporting local jobs, and promoting job training if you shop at a thrift store (most thrift stores offer job training for disadvantaged individuals).
  • Think Sweatshop & Blood Diamonds
If you buy used items, you aren't contributing to demand for production that new items require. Most of the time, working conditions for the workers that make these items are subpar, and don't offer a quality livelihood, or even death  from certain kinds of jobs.
  • Shipping/Environmental impact
By buying used, your items are less likely to be shipped as far as new (internationally) and less likely to contribute to pollution. They also will not be manufactured again and contribute to all of the environmental impact that manufacturing causes.


  • Nostalgia  
Vintage items and antique items are just more quirky, unique, and can bring you back to childhood memories. Just the other day I found some kids' books at the thrift store that I loved when I was young. Both UG1 and I were thrilled with the purchase. When you use something from a different era, you feel connected to the past. You can own a piece of history, like our house. How many people lived in it and were born in it in the last 100 years? That feeling rarely comes for me when I buy something new.

It may be the Gift Giving Season...
Spring may be one of our gift giving seasons, with 3 birthdays in a two month window, but with quality used gifts, it can be a little better. Now you know why we're the family off-the-rack.

Little Urban Greenie

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