\nWe get it – we’re all conditioned to think that new is best. We’ve got YouTube littered with unboxing videos, and ‘new car smell’ is an actual scent. \nBut new things - especially cheap new things - are part of why the world is suffocating in rubbish.\nWe applaud your efforts to buy ethically, from companies who work hard to protect their world. But if you really want to be an eco-warrior, you need to start hitting the second-hand shops. \nIf you take your time, op-shopping (thrifting) can be very therapeutic. It also means that anything you take home and use is doing the earth a double-whammy favour. You’re saving something from being thrown in landfill - tick. You’re also not buying something new, which takes all those resources to produce, and will eventually end up in landfill anyway - tick. To give you perspective on that impact, it takes about 20,000 litres of water to make a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans.\nI love buying second-hand for its own sake. I’ve found so many treasures: pottery, bikes, clothes, handmade bags and belts and so much more. It’s not just about nabbing something beautiful for cheap, but also that thrill of recognising something other people have overlooked. It’s like birdwatching, only better. The added bonus is that second-hand clothes mean you’re never in danger of turning up in the same outfit as the next person.\n\n[ some of my favourite second-hand finds ]\n \nHow to get into second-hand\nIn my last year of high school, I set myself a challenge: I wasn’t going to buy anything new at all. My ball gown, my shoes, my leavers’ dinner outfit - all of it was preloved. I saved a ton of money, and no one even noticed. That year set me up with some really good habits, tips and tricks to make second-handing easy, and fun.\nHave a plan\nPlenty of people go out there with absolutely no clue of what they need or want - and that’s not surprising. ‘Going shopping’ is a pastime - you’re generally just there to be entertained by curated newness, rather than to fill any particular need. Retailers are so good at their jobs that you can spend two hours at the mall and somehow end up with a whole new wardrobe.\nSecond-hand shopping needs to be approached differently. Here’s how:\n\nKnow what’s in your wardrobe or house so you know what’s missing\nWear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off\nCome armed with a water bottle, snacks and reusable shopping bags\nPreload the antihistamines, if you’re sensitive to hay-fever\nOnline, set up searches for the things you’re looking for\n\n\nBuy what you need, not bargains\nYou know what bargains you don’t actually need are called? Rubbish. Here’s how to end up with something you’ll actually use:\n\nCheck for stains or rips - ask for photos online\nOnline, check out what other people are asking about, and make sure you have that info too\nFind out what it’s made of - if it’s low-quality material, it’s probably not a bargain\nAsk about the returns policy and warranties\nDouble-check sizing with real measurements or by trying on - sizes change over time and between brands\n\nBuy quality\nChoose products that you know are made from quality material and fibres. If you recognise a good brand on the tag, even better.\n\nAvoid bidding wars \nDon’t get caught in the hype. You might think that’s the fridge of your dreams, but there will be other dreams and other fridges. Leave the bidding war, and look for something else. Make sure you know exactly what it is you are after, and how much you’re willing to spend.\n\nAsk for a price drop\nKiwis aren’t used to bartering, so don’t be scared to ask for a discount.\n\nBe wary of online scams\nA couple of years ago, I ‘bought’ a bomber jacket off Facebook. After sending payment confirmation, hey presto! They stopped answering me and deleted their profile. I’ve been on high alert ever since.\nUsing proper platforms like Trade Me, Gumtree or Ebay is important - they have good protections in place.\n\nAsk for plastic-free\nIf you’re buying online, ask if they can ship plastic-free - people are usually happy to oblige.\n\n[Thrifty Nifty; photos courtesy of The Nifty Markets]\n \nMy favourite second-hand haunts\nYour local charity shops are always a good place for a browse, but I also love:\n\nTrade Me - Gumtree and eBay are international equivalents\nLocal vintage sellers on Instagram\nSecond-hand markets (my local fave is Thrifty Nifty)\n\n\n\nShopping can save the world\nWho knew shopping could be so ethical? To me it’s a quadruple win that’s hard to beat. So, who else loves an op-shop? What are your tricks of the second-hand trade?