Shift to Thrift: When to Buy Secondhand vs. New

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According to National Geographic, people living in the United States throw away four-fifths of a ton of trash per person, per year. Yes, that’s 1,600 pounds of trash per year – PER PERSON.

The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years. That means the average person in the U.S. will generate 125,920 pounds of trash in their lifetime – or nearly 63 tons of waste. All of that goes into our landfills.

Is that the legacy we want to leave for future generations? What if we stopped putting so much of that “trash” into the garbage, and started reusing it. What then?

More and more people are recognizing the value of investing in secondhand items. According to Marketing Week, one-third of consumers are buying more used items than they were just 12 months prior to their study.

According to the same research, the reasons for secondhand purchases vary. Saving money took the lead, especially in the 18-24 age range. For the older generation, the most common response was that they could purchase an item for themselves and support a charity at the same time.

When looking at the female demographic, that secondhand purchase is usually made when they spot a bargain, can support a favorite charity or have a drive for living a green lifestyle.

Image courtesy H is for Home

Image courtesy H is for Home

A Kiplinger article says that used items often cost 50 to 75 percent less than new, so that is a huge benefit – especially during a struggling economy. Want to shop secondhand to reduce your footprint and costs, but don’t know where to start?

Here are 30 items you can feel more confident buying secondhand. These are mostly items you won’t own long, won’t use much or will get banged up when you use them anyhow.

  1. Cars
  2. Furniture
  3. Designer Jeans
  4. Swing Sets
  5. Formal Wear
  6. Wedding Dresses
  7. Books
  8. College Textbooks
  9. Kids’ Bikes
  10. Music Instruments
  11. Tools
  12. Exercise Equipment
  13. Homes
  14. Office Furniture
  15. Jewelry
  16. Craft Supplies
  17. Sports Equipment
  18. Maternity Clothes
  19. Baby Clothes
  20. Gardening Supplies
  21. DVDs
  22. CDs
  23. Video Games
  24. Holiday Clothes
  25. Kids Toys
  26. Home Décor
  27. Recreational Toys
  28. Baby Gear
  29. Dishware
  30. Gently Used Clothing

On the other hand, you may be wondering what items are better to buy new. You’ll really want to look at safety, durability and longevity of the technology for these items.

These are 20 items you should buy new – but you can make the life of these items last a long time if you take care of them well.

  1. Cribs
  2. Car Seats
  3. Laptops
  4. Footwear
  5. Hats
  6. Cookware
  7. Blenders
  8. Camera Lenses
  9. Mattresses
  10. Bedding and Pillows
  11. Swimsuits
  12. Undergarments
  13. Wetsuits
  14. Vacuums
  15. Computer Software
  16. Bike Helmets
  17. Tires
  18. HDTVs
  19. DVD Players
  20. Makeup

Overall, the trend is moving toward greening up the earth. Purchasing as many items secondhand as possible is one way you can take a step forward in this movement.

What are your favorite things to purchase secondhand?

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Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.