A Year Of Second-Hand Challenge

A Year Of Second-Hand Challenge

I've been mulling over the idea of setting myself a challenge for the new year for weeks but I just couldn’t decide on something challenging enough. My minimalist mindset coupled with my low waste lifestyle means I’m not a big spender; I don't buy enough clothes for a non-buy challenge to be effective, and a spending ban simply wouldn’t be testing enough because of my frugal streak.

The idea for my challenge clicked into place when Jack came home one day with a vase he’d bought from a charity shop. I’ve bought plenty of second-hand things before; from clothing to books, buying pre-loved stuff was something I’ve always done. We even furnished our first flat together from almost entirely pre-owned belongings, and we still have most of those furnishings and appliances to this day.

I've been writing about sustainable fashion for over four years now and have always enjoyed thrifting. But what if I committed to only buying other people’s unwanted stuff for an entire year? Could I find everything I’d need? Would it even be possible? There was only one way to find out.

A Year Of Second-Hand Challenge

We’ve become passive consumers. We are less and less fulfilled by the purchases we make, and are becoming less and less connected to how they were made. We buy things on a whim because they are so accessible and so affordable. We want instant gratification and it’s right there at our fingertips. It’s too easy to shop in-person or online; at our desktop computer or on our phones. With a click of a button we can make a new purchase arrive on our doorstep the very next day.

It’s too easy to forget about how the things we buy are made, who made them, where they came from, and what it took - from the materials and labour to the environmental impact - to create them. Our culture needs to slow down on consumerism. The last thing we need is more new stuff when there are plenty of good-as-new items, things "nobody wants”, still in their box or with the tags on, ready and waiting for us to buy them - if only we looked.

I’m guilty of having lost the patience to wait until I find what I need (or want) to pop up on eBay or in a second-hand shop. I have a tendency to use the fact that I don't buy much at all as a reason to buy new instead of looking for pre-loved items first. When everything you could ever want is a simple Google away, buying new is too easy and I want to break that habit.

A Year Of Second-Hand Challenge

I'm challenging myself to a year of buying nothing new; to only purchase goods that are pre-loved and no longer wanted by their previous owners. My goal for this challenge is to create a shift in my spending habits so that I always look for a second-hand option before buying anything new, and discover how easy (or difficult) it is to find every need or want for the year, pre-loved.

Second-hand has an image problem. The perception is that, by buying something pre-owned, you’re making a sacrifice; the assumption is that what you buy won’t be as good. The reality is that second-hand doesn’t mean second rate, and I’m going to prove that.

A Year Of Second-Hand: The Rules

  • I can thrift, borrow, and swap for items.
  • If I can't find it second-hand, I can't buy it*
  • The challenge applies to all non-essential items from clothes to homewares.
  • The challenge excludes daily essentials like food, toiletries, beauty and cleaning products.
  • I can shop from charity/thrift shops, and online second-hand sites like eBay and Depop.
  • Refurbished counts as pre-owned.
  • Gifts are exempt**

* With the caveat that things that really shouldn't be purchased second-hand (e.g. lingerie) can be purchased new (if I need them) and if buying something pre-owned means paying more than retail price; but I can only make a purchase if it's A. an essential or B. an emergency.

** I will look for gifts for others pre-owned where appropriate and request them for myself, but I won't insist on it. I will continue to accept PR gifts for a couple of reasons: One, it's a trade; I provide work in exchange for the items I receive. Two, reviewing brands and their products helps anyone who doesn't have the option to shop second-hand an alternative sustainable option.

The challenge officially starts 1st January, although unofficially I started my challenge back in November! I'm going to be keeping track of everything I look for or buy, and I'll be checking in every month on the blog to share what I've bought; my successes, my struggles, and my failures.

Follow my #AYearOfSecondHand on Instagram.

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A Year Of Second-Hand Challenge