I Tried It: Second Hand October

There are many reasons why I love writing for GreenLifeNH, but one is that it pushes me to further improve my eco-habits. You can’t talk the talk if you don’t at least try to walk the walk. There are therefore a few lifestyle changes that have been propelled by this site, such as switching to a reusable steel razor, eating less meat, attempting to spend 1000 hours outside and the following attempt: Secondhand October, based on the more popular “Second Hand September.” Friends, this challenge was much harder for me than expected.

When starting, I created some parameters, including only focusing on myself. I already buy a lot of items for my kids from secondhand sources, but they are old enough to push back and I wanted to set some realistic goals for success. For example, over the summer, we experienced a construction accident in our basement and a lot of our winter pieces were destroyed, including all of our boots. During October, I randomly found three sets of Bogs for our family – all at half off at some random store- and went for them. They will last for a while, and then I’ll likely hand them down to friends. Could I have scoured the internet for weeks in order to find second-hand replacements? Sure. But sometimes you need to cross things off your list and move on. On the plus, I rented and plan to use a lot of hand-me-down ski gear this season, so that’s a win.

Do you get similar ads in your social media feeds? They are super hard to ignore and very tempting. But I’m getting better at ignoring them!

Even with those limits in place, it was still tough for me to change my comforting ways. As soon as “new things” went off the table, I wanted to buy everything! In truth, there were a few new things that I just waited until the end of the month to purchase. Is that cheating? Maybe. I am only human, after all. However I also prevented a lot of impulse buys that may have otherwise occurred. Items that I obviously didn’t need since I’m still living without them. Facebook and the like make it so easy to be three clicks away from spending $100 and effortlessly getting some shiny new items delivered to your home. In the past, I gave into these temptations, especially during Covid quarantine! Now I force myself to take a few days and think about things. I also shopped “secondhand first” for things that couldn’t wait, like new-to-me hiking boots off of Ebay. It can be done and you’ll save money in the process!

One of my favorite secondhand purchases – a North Face backpack that I found for $5 at a ski swap. It’s our go-to hiking pac

So where does this leave me? Like with most things in my life, I’m not an all or nothing person. Ideally, I’d like to wear at least one used item a day (full disclosure – I failed at that today) and continue stocking my wardrobe through a variety of sources.  I’ll keep working towards my goals – buy fewer new items, not as often, mostly used. Think more about quality than quantity, and use my purchasing power to support companies that care for the environment. But I’ll also give myself some slack when life gets in the way. It’s still better than the fast fashion habits that I had a few years ago. Progress, not perfection! – Rachel

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