Why second-hand shopping is about more than just being frugal

Ah, it’s the start of a new academic year; a period of new beginnings for many, especially students that are starting or ending their university lives. One thing that many do not speak about during these introduction periods however, is all the bedding, clothes, and cups among other things that are thrown out just because moving students don’t know what to do with them. This creates a lot of waste, which is a problem that we at the Green Office aim to tackle by normalizing the use of thrift shops in university environments. Make use of our Online Thrift Shop and promote circularity on campus!

Visit the Online Thrift Shop

Aside from helping you furnish your room on a tight budget, thrifting can also help you make your life more circular and put less strain on the planet’s already thinly-spread resources. Here is how.

Small steps

In a world with all the overwhelming climate change issues that we are facing right now, it’s hard to avoid people that will tell you what to do; “eat less meat”, “don’t take flights”, “save the world!”. It is easy to feel paralyzed and not know where to start. One of the keys to helping is with small steps and being mindful of your own impact and how it can be measured and adjusted.

The problem with buying

Taking a look at Sarah Lazarovic’s Buyerarchy of Needs (source: http://longliveirony.com/), you can see some steps you can take to reduce your consumption. We live in a world where – unlike the past – the first answer to any need you might have is to buy something that will fulfill that need. Any other options displayed in the Buyerarchy of Needs such as making something, borrowing items from a friend, or best of all, making full use of items that you already have, are being considered less and less as people aspire to have increasingly consumeristic lifestyles. If you really need to procure a new item though, buying that item is the most resource-intensive option that you can take. A good alternative would instead be buying things second-hand, a.k.a. thrifting.

If you really need to procure a new item though, buying that item is the most resource-intensive option that you can take.

Why thrifting makes a difference

For every product that was ever made, certain resources had to be invested in it, whether it be raw materials, labor, or the fuel required to ship the final result. If you have a product and choose to throw it away without making full use of its potential, then all the resources invested in it will have gone to waste. That waste can be prevented, as instead of collecting dust in people’s lonely attics or being dumped and forgotten in landfills, items that would otherwise not be used could find their homes with loving owners such as yourself. By buying something that was already produced and used, you will not be creating demand for new products, and all the resources that will be required to produce them. You would instead be using items that are already in circulation, and that have already been invested in. This is a win-win situation for you, and the world!

Finally, by recycling or thrifting an item, your impact won’t just stop at all the negative impacts you prevented by not buying a new product. It will also contribute to the culture of recycling, spreading it through the statement made by your action. With an action as simple as starting to buy a few second-hand items instead of new ones, the people around you will learn that there are alternatives to buying new products, and that these alternatives may be just as convenient.

Think that thrifting isn’t for you? Think again!

Many people have this impression that thrifting an item means settling for one which is of lower quality or which you otherwise would not have wanted. This is not the case though as there are guidelines to follow when selecting a second-hand product to sell, as nobody is expected to buy a worn-our or damaged product. In fact, you may be surprised by the number of great finds that can be made in a thrift shop, especially when it comes to good quality clothes and even electronics, as these products can stand the test of time.

In order to give you the feel-good experience that comes with finding hidden treasures in thrift shops, the Green Office has been running its own Thrift Shop twice a year. Due to COVID-19 however, this Thrift Shop has shifted to the format of an Online Thrift Shop. Feel free to come take a look at what's available, and if you have anything that you no longer need that is still too good to be wasted, post it and make someone's day!

The Green Office is where fresh hearts and minds come together to support Utrecht University's sustainable development