Lessons From ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale’

thrift store

In his new book ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale,’ author Adam Minter explores the strange (and big!) world of donated items. From thrift stores in Arizona to used good markets in Ghana, he uncovers the various places where everything we donate ends up.

By following these items across the globe, Minter is taken aback by the sheer volume of goods Americans are buying new, using briefly, and then donating to thrift stores. While donating unwanted goods is an eco-friendly move, buying new, inexpensive, non-durable products is not.

In the spirit of Minter’s book, here are a few ways you can reduce your impact by changing up your purchasing habits.

Want vs. Need

As with nearly everything eco-friendly, less is more. Before you purchase a product, consider if you actually need it or just want it. Often the instant gratification of a purchase wears off quickly, leaving you with less money and more unwanted stuff.

Buy Used

Used products do:

  • Save you money
  • Support the local economy

Used products don’t:

  • Require new resources
  • Generate additional pollution
  • Need energy to be created
  • Have additional packaging

Together, these factors make buying used substantially more eco-friendly than buying new. So the next time you need to buy something, consider checking your local thrift store or online marketplace to see if you can find what you need secondhand.

Buy Durable

Can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand? Consider purchasing a durable, well-made product that will last. Oftentimes, buying a slightly more expensive product that functions better and lasts longer is less expensive — and more eco-friendly — in the long run.