Saving money isn’t the only reason to buy used

Bedbugs. Weird smells. The possibility of imminent breakdowns. People have all sorts of excuses for not buying used stuff.

Those who deliberately buy used items, though, say such fears are not just overblown — they’re also expensive.

Katy Wolk-Stanley, a Portland, Oregon, labor and delivery nurse, has a short list of things she’ll buy new, including personal care items (toothbrushes, makeup, feminine hygiene products) and certain clothing (socks, underwear, bras). Otherwise, she looks for secondhand options, something she’s done for more than 10 years since she first heard of The Compact, a group of people who pledge to avoid buying new.

The idea is to reduce waste, clutter and the negative effects of consumerism. The original pledge was for one year, but Wolk-Stanley and other members of the group kept going.

“You save money. You make a decision that you feel good about. There’s no reason to stop,” says Wolk-Stanley, who blogs as The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Saving money, helping the planet
Wolk-Stanley and others use thrift stores, Craigslist, garage sales and local Buy Nothing or Freecycle groups that connect people who have stuff to give away with those who want it.

“I’m not buying used things that are worn out. I’m buying used things that look brand new,” Wolk-Stanley says. She’s using the saved money to help put two sons through college without loans.

People who buy used often value the idea of keeping stuff out of landfills and reducing their environmental impact as much as they do saving money.

Angela Barton, a writer and editor in Los Angeles, likes cutting her carbon footprint as well as traveling more using the money she saves. Julia Park Tracey, an author and journalist in Forestville, California, refurbished her home using materials that otherwise might have been discarded. She bought new energy-efficient appliances but gathered most supplies from The Freecycle Network, Craigslist and the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity ReStores, which sell donated paint, flooring, appliances, furniture and building materials.

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