By purchasing second-hand goods from an opportunity shop, you are supporting a charity, getting a bargain and reducing the resources required to satisfy your consumption needs.
From eBay to the trading post, garage sales to the local op shop, there are a host of ways to grab a second-hand bargain. The common adage that a new car loses 20 per cent of its value when you drive it off the lot applies even more so to most other goods. By getting into second-hand gear you'll save thousands of dollars every year; discounts on second-hand items would put most sales to shame. Need a T-shirt? You can spend up to $100 on a new one or browse your local op shop and pick one up for $2, with the proceeds going to charity. From an environmental perspective, purchasing second-hand goods extends the life of the thing you are buying and defers or avoids the need for more resources to be used in making a new product.
How to do it now!
Visit your local op shop.
Op shops exist to provide cheap goods and support charities focused at helping the poor and ailing members of our community. They are generally staffed by volunteers and always have a bargain or two; or three.
Check out local street markets and garage sales
These are another source of great deals and can also be an opportunity to meet your neighbours. The Garage Sale Trail site provides a growing list of garage sales across Australia. Look for signs on a light pole, in the community paper or on café notice boards to find out where and when.
Buy second hand goods online
Try reading The Choice Buying Guide: Second-Hand Goods', which describes the rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers of second-hand goods.
Sites for buying (and selling) second-hand goods:
Sites for finding (and giving away) free goods:
Etsy - An online community for buying and selling hand-made things (though not necessarily second-hand).
Why is this action important?
Reusing existing products has a two-fold effect on the environment. It reduces the need to extract more materials from nature and it circumvents large amounts of concentrated (and often toxic) man-made materials entering the environment and having to be processed by nature.
In 2006-2007, Australians generated approximately 43.8 million tonnes of solid waste, that’s over 2 tonnes per capita (Source:ABS). Approximately 60 per cent of this waste is buried in landfill. This represents a huge, ongoing loss of invested energy, extracted resources and natural services that could otherwise be recycled back into other man-made products and materials, or left in nature.
Reusing existing products will leave us with more money for worthier purposes. At a deeper level it makes us examine and question the nature of our attachment to things. Why do we define ourselves (and others) by our most superficial aspects, our possessions, while too often ignoring those profound characteristics such as our wisdom, compassion and happiness?