Hot Tips for Second-Hand Shopping

While buying second-hand is nowhere close to being a solution to a linear economy, it’s still significantly less taxing on resources and the environment than buying new. As well, this contributes to a long term demand for second-hand items, which is an extremely valuable contribution.


However, there are some frustrations that can accompany this practice. Today, I’d like to introduce some tips and tricks for consumers seeking to reduce their footprint without sacrificing quality, preference, or style.

So, without further ado..


Tip #1: Make a list

Even when shopping second-hand, having a high turnover in your possessions is not sustainable for the environment or your bank account. By having an ongoing list (even better if you give yourself time to meditate on the purchase), you make sure that you are only buying what you truly need or want. It adds mindfulness and purpose to the decisions you make with your money.

Tip #2: Be Patient

This ties a lot into my first point. I know its hard, in a world designed for impulsive consumption, to A) not jump at the first item you see that sort of suits your needs and B) not get frustrated when you are unable to find the thing you need immediately. But often the perfect item that will last you the longest and suit you the best is going to require some searching and possibly some waiting. This is why its good to have an ongoing list so that you can keep track of things and also give yourself enough time to acquire what you need (for example, start looking for hiking gear before the season is upon you!).


Tip #3: Try your local online marketplaces (Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji)

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If you’re looking to purchase something bigger or more expensive, or for a specific item like, say, a cookware set, these are the places to look! People believe these items are worth selling, rather than donating (so its good quality or that person is just cheap af)

Some tips for this are:

  • Be thorough/creative in your word searches
  • If you’re heading out of town soon, try looking in that place’s local online marketplaces
  • Bargain! As a rule, I start about 30% lower than asking price
  • Check for specific pages, for example, the Lululemon/Aritzia Buy and Sell on Facebook
  • Decide on a price before you arrive at your deal
  • Know your size/measurements (not just for clothes- think of space limitations, ergonomics, etc.)
  • Be safe! Don’t give out personal information, and always meet in a public place. Let someone know where you will be meeting
  • If you can, ask for receipts from the original purchase for warranty/quality issues


Tip #4: Shop for quality

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Look for quality promises like these- especially when they emphasize repairing over replacing!

Do your research before – check reviews, look for lifetime guarantees, and make sure that this product has the specifications you’re looking for. Keep an eye out for trusted brands. With electronics, look for items with expandable memory (and save soooo much money).


Tip #5: Consider post-consumption pollution



This is one that I really need to improve on. I think that a lot of the time, we aren’t conscious of the affects our purchases have after we’ve purchased them. The most prevalent example I can give is that of synthetic fabrics and the extremely fine microfibres they release into the water supply every time we wash them.  These fibres eventually end up in our rivers and oceans. But some other examples can include gas mileage/fuel type in used vehicles, or energy efficiency in electronics.


Tip #6: Utilize more official second-hand shopping resources

This is a great option if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to leave your house to find second-hand items, or if you don’t have thrift options in your area. It’s important to note that often there are associated shipping emissions with this. But I think that compared to the environmental costs of producing brand new products, these additional emissions are a much better option.

There are a very surprising number of websites, apps, and even stores out there that are made specifically for second-hand markets. In my experience, I’ve looked most for online resources specifically for gear for outdoor activities because I absolutely need that to be reliable or I’m gonna have a real nasty time. But there are so many routes you can go with this! Here are some that I’ve found thus far:

In outdoor gear:

 In clothing

  • Etsy Vintage
  • Depop and other second-hand shopping apps
  • Consignment shops

In vehicles:

  • Go Auto
  • Independent used car dealers
  • Car dealerships that sell used as well as new cars

In books (including textbooks!):


Tip #7: Be gentle with yourself

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

― Jane Goodall

I guarantee that it’s going to be very difficult to check all of the boxes. Remember that a lot of people doing their best is way more powerful than a few people being 100% perfect (which I’m pretty sure is impossible anyway). Be kind to yourself as well as the planet 🙂

Alongside these tips, here are some other great pieces talking about slow and sustainable consumption. Here’s a great video talking about second-hand fashion that I thought was really great, and as well, I encourage you to check out Kevin’s post on Slow Fashion (a two-part series! Part two coming soon).

Like I said, second-hand shopping can be a pretty daunting experience – but it doesn’t have to be. Using these tips and resources, you’ll be an expert in no time! Get out there and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable economy, one purchase (or choice not to purchase) at a time.

Kate McMorran
Blog Team Member







3 thoughts on “Hot Tips for Second-Hand Shopping

    1. Hey, V! Kate here. Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you liked the post! And yeah, that’s definitely what I’m hoping to achieve- the more people know the more they’re likely to take advantage of the options available. Thanks for your readership, and don’t forget to spread the word! Best of luck on your sustainability journey!

      Liked by 1 person

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