Trends in global consumption have seen a marked change as ideas like minimalism and sustainable living shift focus from consumerism and brand equity. Society seems to have come a long from the days when ‘more is better’ used to be the ideal way of living. You see people opting for environmentally responsible choices and consuming things that actually add value to their life, rather than blindly going after brands and fast fashion.
As more and more people change the way they consume products and services, the use of second-hand products or used products have been gaining traction. Going for used products doesn’t necessarily imply that a person is stingy. Most people like to get the best bet for their money and if a used product fulfills the purpose, then why not.
The way people consume or use a product varies from person to person. That being said, just because someone thinks they should get rid of a product, doesn’t mean it has served its purpose. For instance, the piece of furniture can easily be moved around houses and still be functional for several years.
Going for used stuff also has several environmental benefits. According to a study conducted by the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute in 2016, people who bought used products helped cut Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 16.3 million tonnes in five marketplaces in Europe. The study was commissioned by the Norwegian firm Schibsted Media Group and researchers used the data from the company’s best markets in five countries in Europe. Please find more information in The Secondhand Effect Report 2017.
In 2019, OLX alone significantly saved materials, energy, water, and GHG emissions through trading secondhand products on its platform. OLX saved 9.2 million tons of materials, 14.2 million GJ of energy savings, 24.6 million cubic meters of water, and 0.9 million tonnes of GHG emissions reduction globally. Check more here.
The fewer products the world consumes, the lesser are the chances of them being thrown out and ending up in a landfill. Consequently, authorities are tasked with disposing of a smaller quantity of waste, thereby benefiting the environment. This stands especially true for plastic products which take decades to decompose. Going for second-hand cars is one of the best ways to cut down greenhouse emissions. One can easily get a used car without compromising on quality. Another popular product in the used goods market is furniture. Furniture (especially wooden furniture) can be used for several years provided one maintains it properly.
What’s more is that when you opt for buying used products, it benefits the environment as a whole. As consumption reduces, so does the requirement for exhaustible resources like fuel and water required to dispose of them. These resources can then be put to more productive uses.
Coming to economic benefits, by opting for used products you can use your hard-earned money more effectively too. Rather than maxing out your credit card or burdening yourself with EMIs in order to get a new car or a study table, go for a second-hand one. You will thank yourself when you see that healthy bank account balance at the end of the month. Whatever you save can be routed to a more fruitful use like investing in property or shares. If you are looking for something low-key, then you can also invest the money you save by opting for an online course which will boost your skillset. Not to forget, having money to spare and not being burdened with debt or bills also brings a lot of peace of mind.
In case you feel that you no longer have any use for the second-hand product you bought, you can also re-sell it. There are many takers for used products out there, especially for products like furniture, cars and toolsets. For those who have to change houses often because of their job, second-hand products are ideal as you don’t have to worry a lot about damaging them during shifting or you can even re-sell them whenever you have to change homes.
If you have decided on buying used products, you should be careful to go for only those products which have a long shelf life and are not high-maintenance. Furniture, cars, tools for gardening and various kinds of repairs, and books are the most popular products in this category. However, avoid going for things like helmets, clothes and smartphones as there’s no surety about their longevity and quality despite the seller’s claims. One should also avoid going for used baby cribs, car seats and mattresses for hygiene and safety purposes. Another category that you should be cautious about is toy chests without safety hinges. Small kids can get even trapped in these drawers if one is not careful and hence are best avoided.
There are also a number of fraudsters out there who try to trap innocent buyers by claiming to sell antiques and precious items. If you want to buy any such product, make sure to ascertain their authenticity before striking a deal.
If you are someone who owns a lot of stuff that you no longer require, you can also enlist it and sell it. You never know when an old lampshade sitting in your garage might light up a corner of a stingy student’s room. No to forget, the extra cash will only benefit your finances.
Once you decided to buy a second-hand product, you should remember a few things. For starters, only go for trusted websites like Quickr, eBay and OLX. There are a number of fake websites out there waiting to trap innocent customers. Read on cyber crimes like phishing and vishing before going ahead with a purchase or sale. Alternatively, you can buy or sell used products to a friend or a family member or even someone referred to by either of the two.
There are several cities in India which also have markets where you can score great deals on second-hand products. Apart from these, you can look up thrift stores in your neighborhood to get good reasonable deals.
Apart from the aforementioned benefits, buying used products also makes you more responsible with spending your money. Contrary to popular belief, purchasing second-hand products is more about being financially wise than being a miser. The money you save could be put to better use even if it’s something as simple as buying a designer watch that you have been eyeing for months. It’s all about routing money from a less desirable avenue to a more desirable one.
Shailesh is post graduate in Environment Management from Forest Research Institute (FRI) University, Dehradun, India. Presently he is working in the areas of Environmental and Renewable Energy Advisory Services. He has started GreenCleanGuide.com during his college days.