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Nothing new in 2022

Nothing new in 2022

Hi! Im Gemma, one of the Ailuna dare creators. In January I accepted the Nothing New in 22 challenge set by Sustainable(ish)How hard could it be, I already buy second hand” I thought. Well, six months in and Im a little less cocky.

The challenge excludes food, medicines and consumables for fixing things. I also excluded anything which wed need for the health or development of our baby daughter!

For the whole of 2022, we (a family of three) set out to swap, borrow, make or mend in the first instance and buy second hand when we need something. If we cant find second hand well buy new – ideally made from recycled materials, sourced locally and/or from companies with an ethical stance.

My favourite part of the buy nothing new challenge so far has been repurposing a toilet and bathtub into a planter and pond for my garden!

9 minutes to read

by Gemma Annan  / June 24th 2022

Easier said than done!

Here are some of the challenges Ive faced so far:

Temptation. Ive learnt to avoid high street stores and head into charity shops or boutiques where possible. But visiting local markets is torture! There are so many colourful and pretty things I want to buy, instead I browse quickly to gather inspiration should I ever have time to sit and get creative (its not happened yet!).

Not being prepared. In the first week of January it was my Nans birthday and in true Gemma style I picked something up last minute. In hind sight I should have avoided buying her a gift simply treating her to lunch which she would have enjoyed more! Why do we feel the need to gift things?!

Short on time. Sometimes we need things here and now – thats life! Waiting for the exact thing you need to become available on the second hand market, locally can be time consuming! We decided to get a dehumidifier to help dry clothes over winter and reduce mould build up. In a previous house I got one for free on Gumtree but this time we decided to get an energy efficient one and brand new as there wasnt anything local which met our needs.

Receiving presents from family members. People love to buy for babies – say no more!

Tips for avoiding having to buy

Before buying anything, second hand or otherwise, were trying to swap, borrow, make or mend so here are a few tips that will hopefully help you do the same.

Swap a skill

No good with a sewing needle? Can someone help and you teach them a few words of French in exchange? My friend is going to fix my sewing machine and Ill bake her some cookies (I have no language to offer and Im not sure shell be returning for my cookies but itll be a good excuse for a cuppa and natter!).

Learn a new skill

Is there a local wood making or seamstress class you can join to learn some handy skills? Otherwise YouTube is full of tutorials on everything from sock darning to upcycling furniture.

Ask your friends and family

Sounds simple but before searching for those new goods, ask if someone has one lurking in a cupboard! We bagged 2 phone charging leads and cushion covers this way!

Make things last longer

To avoid having to buy new I now search the internet for the item I want to last longer, such as make my phone charging cable last longer’ and then I search for the best tip! You can also check out our blog post on making your clothes last longer for some additional tips.

Tips for second hand shopping

If you can’t swap, borrow, repair or rent the item you’re looking for, shopping second hand is usually the next best option. Here are some of the pointers I’ve picked up over the years when shopping for second hand items.

Visit and revisit charity shops

Dont be put off by not finding anything you like. Thats the beauty of charity shops, they are full of unique items, revisit again and Im sure youll find something delightful!

Watch out for dropshipping

Dropshipping is where a seller doesn’t keep the item they are selling in stock or personally own it. The seller buys the product from a third party and they ship the item to the customer. People have started using second hand sites to sell goods which are not second hand.

Ways to spot dropshipping:

  • Do the photos seem genuine? Do they look like stock images/taken from an Instagram account? If so, ask the seller to send additional photos, no photos red flag!
  • Are there multiple sizes and colours?Dropshippers have endless amount of stock. Generally someone selling their own clothes won’t have!
  • How long is the shipping time? Dropshipped items generally take 2-4 weeks to receive. Bare in mind that genuine small businesses may take a while to send when hand made.


Adopt the 20x rule when buying clothes

Spot a nice pair of jeans, snazzy t-shirt or cosy jumper? Ask yourself if youre likely to wear it 20 times? If yes then go ahead and treat yourself, if no, ask yourself if you really need it. The magic number is 30 times when buying new but as the item has likely been worn before I feel a bit of leeway can be made with second hand.

folded jumpers on a shelf

Think in advance

The item you want might not be available when you want it so if you anticipate needing something then start searching for it in advance. I keep a list of things I need now and in the near future.

Dont travel unless necessary

 Have you driven miles to pick up something second hand? Unless you are heading that way, spare a thought for the carbon & other emissions of your car!

Opt for a greener delivery

At check out, if given the option to have the item delivered to a store instead of your home this could save the fumes emitted from driving around the streets to reach your house. Also, if you have direct contact with the seller ask for limited packaging where possible.

Check out our Second Hand September blog for more tips on buying second hand, and my fellow team member Louise’s blog on stocking up when you’re expecting a baby.

When you have to buy new

Its inevitable we need to buy new at times so heres a few tips on buying new as sustainably as possible.

Speak to retail staff

See if the retailer has offcuts, spares, returns, which theyll sell at a discounted rate. We got wonky’ wood at a DIY store for our raised planter!

Seek out the left overs

See if the retailer has an ex-display/end-of-line range. We picked up a refurbished extractor fan with a dent in it, and lucky for us the dent made it cheaper!

Check how ethical a company is

Ethical Consumer is a reliable website (limited info available without paying for a subscription) for rating brands and products in terms of their sustainability.

My biggest win so far

This year we set out to improve our garden for us and wildlife. We managed to upcycle an old bath into a pond, old pallets into furniture, washing machine drum into a fire pit and wood off cuts into a raised planter. We have bought solar lights, plants and metal for the planter but mostly weve managed to source free and used stuff for our new’ garden.

On occasion I have picked up items without a second thought when they could have been homemade or purchased second hand. To help give me a boost I am going to take the Buy Nothing New’ Ailuna action, Im also going to invite my partner and both of our mums to take it as a team challenge!

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