Buying Secondhand and Circular?

Change for 2022

Before buying anything, take a new look into buying secondhand, reusing or upcycling. When it comes to looking for things like clothes, toys, furniture, electronics, bikes, cars and more, many people, unfortunately, tend to buy new. 

We can’t say secondhand buying is new. Second-hand buying has existed for hundreds of years across the world and we really need to get back to liking secondhand as it helps with saving money, improving environmental wellbeing, reducing transport and packaging, supporting local businesses, jobs and charities. Choosing reuse or secondhand also allows you access to unique items which may express something special about you!

When you buy new, you are usually choosing from mass-produced products; for instance, the rails and racks full of the same clothes that members of your family and community may already have! 

File:Oxfam shop, Dublin.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Oxfam Shop – Dublin

Why People Choose New?

Buying secondhand can be more work. Finding the right size, model, colour or size make take more time compared to knowing where to find new things easily. So secondhand can take a little hunting.

There is also the quality expectation with reuse or secondhand. You have to check items work correctly and match your needs.

Used items are not necessarily a better value just because they cost less, just as new items are not always better just because they cost more.

Some consumers are considered insecure about reuse or like to manage their image. They like to buy new products to reduce anxiety, stress or match life expectations.

Secondhand Studies

A number of studies over recent years found that more people are moving to secondhand products when they have a need.

Irish Cancer Society Charity Shops | Irish Cancer Society
Irish Cancer Society Shop

Research from CCS Insight reveals the refurbished mobile phone market is poised for further growth. The findings showed that 60 per cent of respondents in the UK confirmed they would consider buying refurbished phones and 56 per cent in the US. This is good news!

Research from Refurbed, an online marketplace for refurbished electronic devices in Europe, found 73% of Irish shoppers are willing to buy a refurbished or second-hand laptop, phone or tablet to reduce their environmental impact. Source: Irish Times May 2021.

The Irish Times also reported in Aug 2021 on the unprecedented’ spike in charity shop sales since reopening after the Covid lockdown period. Dermot McGilloway, retail development manager with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, said a “much wider” range of consumers are visiting stores including a greater number of male customers.

Reason to Consider Second Hand / Reuse

  • Better for the environment
  • Unique personal and gift items
  • Usually the purchase supports the work of a charity
  • Older items often offer higher quality and longer life
  • Cost effective
  • Wide selection of items in one place.
  • Access to brands at lower prices
  • Promotes a circular ecomony
Oxfam Informational Infographics

Consumer Advice

The Consumers’ Association of Ireland is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, registered with charitable status working on behalf of Irish consumers. They offer the below advice on buying second hand.

When you buy a second-hand good from a business, it must be fit for the purpose for which it was sold and as described to you.  In addition, the quality must be of an expected standard according to the price you paid for it.   Second-hand goods cannot be expected to be of the same standard as new ones and they may have imperfections or show signs of wear and tear.  As a result, they need to be examined carefully before purchase and consumers should ask the retailer to point out any damage.  The item should do what it is expected to do and, if it does not, you have the right to return it and request a replacement, repair or refund.

In contrast, when you buy an item from another consumer – either new or second-hand – then you have no consumer rights, as consumer legislation only applies when you are buying from a business.  In a private sale, conducted either in person or online, the item merely has to be owned by the seller and fit its description.   In this instance, it is a case of buyer beware and it is up to the consumer to check out the item before buying.


Buying second hand personal electronic equipment like phones, tablets, laptops and games consoles is a good way to save money and help reduce waste created by upgrades and new product releases. There are plenty of second-hand electronic product available particularly online, but take care in identifying a fully functional device with a good battery life. Ensure items selected are sold through well know, secure website and can be easy return if they don’t match your expectation.

As you may know, many general second-hand shops/charity shops don’t trade in second hand household electrical or electronic items today. There are a number of reasons including a need to test the electrical appliances before resale, insurance costs and consumer safety. If we want to have a circular economy for electrical and electronic equipment in Ireland these challenges and others will need to be addressed.

Learn more about product safety here.

About Recycle IT

Recycle IT is an award-winning, not for profit social enterprise established to create employment and promote environmental awareness through recycling and reuse. We work in partnership with WEEE Ireland and are authorized by your local authority to provide electrical, electronic and pure metal recycling collections across Dublin and surrounding areas since 2007. Recycle IT are fully compliant with WEEE Recycling regulations. You will find permit details available here.

Recycle IT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s