Bargaining for the Planet
By Ellen Victoria Gunn
For those of you who didn’t catch my last post, allow me a nutshell introduction. I’m Ellen, and every month I test a new tactic for a waste-free, budget lifestyle. These posts are my feedback, guides for the eco-aspirational among you. I don’t generally spend much, but I do like the occasional binge, and recently I’ve been binging – so this post is about shopping.
But I’ve been steering clear of high streets, for a number of reasons. One thing to consider, having worked in retail, is when shops have a huge reduction and everything from last season’s ranges goes into sale – this just demonstrates how high their margins are in the first place. Their sale items still manage to cover all their costings while maintaining profit. So here’s some advice and a list of places to consider, before buying into big high street labels:
1. Starting with the familiar, charity shops: you can find last season’s clothes for half the price and you know your money is going to a good cause. This literally happened to me – I found an Urban Outfitters dress which I contemplated buying in store, and then three years down the line I bought it reduced from £45 (I think…) to £18. A lesson that patience does pay off.
2. For those of you that aren’t patient – Depop – oh my goodness Depop. I’ve found shoes the hardest to find second-hand, especially in charity shops as the chances of them having your size are slim, let alone the type of shoe you need. Depop saves you a lot of needless shop-hopping. I will admit, purchasing shoes online can be iffy, particularly as you’re buying from independent sellers with (usually) a no-returns policy. BUT at the same time, I found the cutest pair of velvet shoes for £12 including postage and they fit me perfectly, I didn’t have to break them in, they were far from horrendously worn and I have honestly been wearing them ever since! So like anyone who’s hit the jackpot, I’m not so fussed about the risks right now. You really haven’t got much to lose as you can always resell shoes that don’t fit on the same platform you bought them. Conclusion: Depop is fabulous if you are tight for time, and don’t mind spending a little more in order to find exactly what you want. Another reason I’m not always a fan of buying online is packaging, so I always ask the seller the following (feel free to use this):
‘Hey, great images so thank you for that! If it’s possible would you be able to wrap them up in something biodegradable as I’m trying to live a more minimal waste lifestyle, hence the reason for purchasing second hand! Thanks again xo’
You win some you lose some. But overall you save some too. Honestly so pleased with both my purchases, the trainers on the right were £23.80 including postage. So that is £35.80 for two pairs of shoes. If I bought the Nike shoes outright, the price I paid wouldn’t have even covered half the price of a ‘fresh’ pair. And yes I have freakishly small feet.
3. The classics – Amazon & Ebay are great, but there is one thing to watch out for on these sites. I’ve noticed that on Depop, people are mainly clearing their wardrobes and freeing up space; what can happen on Ebay and Amazon (and sometimes even Depop) is people essentially creating an online shop and source that product in bulk – a tell-tale sign is if they offer a multitude of sizes. So I try and stay clear of that, as they’re probably importing these items from China and just upselling them. I would rather support an independent, selling a more unique item.
4. Car boot sales of course, if you’re crazy enough to wake up at the crack of dawn for a bargain.
5. Genuinely just walking along the street – people throw everything away at some point. I found a perfectly decent spiny chair on the street recently, along with adorable cake tins & vases all at once.
6. Vintage shops: went into a great one today called ‘Snooper’s Paradise’ in Brighton – it literally has everything and is one of the wackiest in-store experiences around. I bought a head band and frame for £7.50.
So just be savvy with your money. I’m not saying never buy new (sometimes you need that feeling of brand-spanking freshness!) but invest in places where you can see it make a difference. Individual boutiques or independent shops, for example, where you speak to the business owner, knowing that your money is essentially supporting not just their shop but their livelihood too. That’s really important.
I’m hoping my next post will showcase my own wardrobe and the enormity of clothes that I have; I’ll be touching base on what a capsule collection means, without spending a penny and making the most of what you’ve got.
Thanks for reading!
Ellen Victoria Gunn xox