This blog post was born after I was called ‘tight’ (Irish slang for mean with money) in a Freecycle group for asking for something inexpensive. The rude commentator expressed amazement at my request for an item that could be bought for €5 in a shop. I explained that I only needed the item for 2 hours and that I avoid buying new items for environmental reasons, so she suggested that the item could be cut up and used as rags after it’d be worn. I said it would be better for me not to buy one in the first place, to which she replied with the terms, ‘tight’, ‘mean’, ‘tree hugger’ and ‘get a grip’. Her comments were eventually deleted by moderators but it got me thinking. Why the strong reaction to my post? And why did her response fill me with shame?
I sought feedback from members of the Zero Waste Facebook Group and it seems my experience wasn’t a once off. People reported being mocked as misers for buying pre-owned by friends and family. Even radio presenters had been heard ridiculing the practice of buying second-hand on the radio. What’s the deal, why are some people so reactive to the idea of buying second-hand goods?
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You can listen to an audio version of this blog post on my Soundcloud account
One member suggested that it’s all tied up with our measure of success. That society measures success not just by how much money we have, but how much we display. This desire to appear successful by displaying our so-called-wealth keeps us in the rat race that we (as a society) have created so of course we’re all invested, consciously or subconciously, in making sure we don’t upset that apple cart.
We all think of ourselves as individuals with free will and a rational mind and we are, partially. We’re also social creatures and the worst fate for a social animal is to be shunned by it’s community. It’s this subconscious fear that leads most people to live slightly different, but largely similar lives. The message is clear, ‘it’s okay to be different, but not too different’.
What is defined as ‘different’ all depends on a groups’ ‘atmosphere of normality’ at any given time. In the 1900s it was ‘normal’ for all women to only wear dresses, in the 1950s it was ‘normal’ not to own a television, and currently for a large number of people it is ‘normal’ to buy everything new. I suspect that it’s this fear of being seen as different that is holding most people back from embracing second-hand.
The ironic thing is that buying second-hand is one of the few sustainable ways environmentalists like me can look ‘normal’ to the outside world. If was to exclusively wear sustainably and locally grown, processed and made garments within my budget I think I’d be looking at dog-hair jumpers! Buying a second-hand Zara top allows me to blend in with the general population engaged in linear consumption.
I know a lot of people also associate buying second-hand with poverty and are terrified of being labelled as poor. Ironically in my experience it’s the families that can easily afford new uniforms that engage with pre-owned uniform sales. Families that can least afford to shell out €40 on a new school jumper are very reluctant to be seen to buy second-hand goods. It’d be interesting to know how attitudes to second-hand by a peer group influences an individuals shopping habits.
I’ve noticed that social change happens in waves, rippling out from points of influence. The origin of the influence and the impact of the ripples differs from phenomenon to phenomenon. I’m sure more than a few oil barons hoped this whole ‘concern for the planet’ was just a fad, something that would dissipate overtime as happened in the 1970s. I am hoping that’s not the case as I see story after story about new developments toward sustainable practices like Patagonia’s recently opened pop-up ‘Better than New’ store in the US selling pre-owned clothing.
To help spread positive ripples the steps are clear, share this post, buy second-hand and tell EVERYONE about it with pride!
And if you don’t know where to source your second-hand goods here’s a guide.
Clothing, Shoes, Accessories
- Your local charity shop!
- Your local vintage store. Here’s a List of Vintage Stores in Dublin City Centre
- Thriftify.ie now sell clothes on behalf of charities and social-enterprises
- ebay remembering to tick the used box. Here are some great tips on buying pre-owned clothing on ebay from the blogger at A Considered Life
- Freecycle groups on Facebook
- Peach Vintage (online sales)
- Frock Exchange, Skerries, Co Dublin
- Unit K Sandymount, Dublin 4
- Next Resell Facebook Group
- What she Wore Facebook Group
- Preloved Funky and Original Clothes for Grown Up Facebook Group
- Preloved Funky & Original Kids Clothing & Accessories Facebook Group
Swapshops are another great way of finding new garments and they’re becoming increasingly popular in Ireland. Here are a few groups running them
- Zero Waste Festival Ireland
- Local Zero Waste groups
- Sustainable Fashion Dublin
- OMF Events Killarney
- Rediscovery Centre Furniture (community scheme located in Ballymun, Dublin 11)
- Revamp 3R (community scheme located in Longford)
- Back 2 New (community scheme located in Limerick)
- Duhallow Revamping (community scheme in Newmarket, Co Cork)
- Revamped (located in Drogheda, Co Louth)
- Revived and Retro (located in Terryglass, Co Tipperary)
- The Big Up (located in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin)
- Altered and Eclectic in Scarrif, Munster
- Galway Artisan Workshop in Galway city
- Shabby in Ireland is a resource and supplier for anyone interested in the doing their own upcycling.
Furniture from Recycled Materials
- Home Street Home (Irish made furniture and furniture from abroad made with salvaged / recycled materials located in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6)
- Quirkistuff (Restyled furniture made with components from existing furniture sourced in Ireland located in Bray, Co Wicklow. See my previous post on Quirkistuff for more info)
- The Store Room (Co Louth but really only online) They sell products that they say are sourced through Fairtrade and Ethical companies from around the world with a focus on reclamation , recycling , upcycling and re use of materials.
- Christy Bird (Wide range of antique furniture located in Portobello, Dublin 2)
- Mosa Studios – (Eclectic range of antique furniture located in Merchants Quay, Dublin 8)
- Decor (Eclectic Mix of pre-owed and new furniture from Ireland and abroad on Wexford St, Dublin 2
- Table Lighting Chair – (Midcentury antiques located in Rialto, Dublin 8)
- Kirkmodern – (Midcentury antiques located in Blackrock, Co Dublin)
- Retrorumage – (Midcentury antiques located in Dundrum, Dublin 14)
- Seven Wood – (Midcentury antiques located in Portobello, Dublin 8)
- Vintage Limelight – (Midcentury antiques located in Rathfarnham, Dublin 16)
- Beyond Retro (Midcentury antiques located in Templeogue, Dublin 6W)
- Original Compulsive Design (Midcentury antiques located in Kilkenny)
- Vintage Hub (Midcentury antiques located in Lusk, Co Dublin)
- Rummage (Second-hand furniture and homeware in Roscommon)
- The Gaiety (Upcycled and Antique furniture and homeware in Westport, Mayo)
- Herman & Wilkinson (Auction house located in Rathmines, Dublin 6)
- RJ Keighery (Auction house located in Waterford city, Waterford)
- Auction Warehouse (Runs online auctions weekly, based in Sandyford in Dublin 18)
- Macs Warehouse, (Salvage yard in Islandbridge, Dublin 8)
- Baily Gibson Salvage (Salvage yard on South Circular Road, Dublin 8)
- Architectural Salvage (Salvage yard located in Naas Road, Dublin 22)
- Landmark Architectural (Salvage yard in Newcastle, Co Dublin)
- Wilson’s Yard (Salvage Yard in Dronmore, Co Down)
- Rugs to Rhinos / Irish Liquidators (Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6)
- Rediscovery Centre (Social enterprise in Ballymun, Dublin 9)
- Needful Things (Antiques located in Dublin 2)
- Oxfam Home (Charity located on Francis St, Dublin 8)
- NCBI Home (Charity located in Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6)
- NCBI Home (Charity located on Francis St, Dublin 8)
- St Vincent de Paul (Charity located in Navan, Co Meath)
- Age Action (Charity Shop on Camden St, Dublin 2)
- Age Action (Charity Shop in Cherry Orchard / Ballyfermot Dublin 22)
- Your local charity shop!
- Most of the stores listed under furniture above
- Living Lightly in Ireland (Shameless plug for my pre-owned homeware!)
- Recycle IT, Dublin 22
- CEX Stores
- Amazon now has a refurbished electronics section
- Apple also sells refurbished Apple devices on it’s website
CDs, Books, Games
- Your local charity shop
- The bookstore chain Opening Minds sell second-hand school books
- CEX Stores (games, movies)
- Thriftify.ie sells books, CD’s, and movies on behalf of charities and social-enterprises
- Betterworldbooks in an American website that sells old Library books destined for landfill and redirects the profits back to supporting libraries.
- musicmagpie.co.uk for books, movies, games and music
- A lot of bike shops like the Cyclesuperstore in Dublin 24 sell second-hand bikes alongside new ones.
- You can buy second-hand wetsuits for kids from the Great Outdoors. And you can return it to them and get a discount voucher for another one when you’re done with it.
- Your local charity shop
- Preloved Wooden, Vintage & Educational Toys
- Preloved Plastic Toys Ireland
- Preloved Toys Ireland – Imagine, Create, Build
- Living Lightly in Ireland (I have a few pre-owned and brand new toys in Dublin 14!)