Buy Nothing New

Liz is a wife and mum, and deputy editor of Accountancy Ireland

‘I bought nothing new for three months’,

Liz Riley bravely took on our very first challenge for the podcast – buying nothing new for a month. ‘My attitude had been, if I want something, I’m going to just buy it. And I started thinking, ‘that’s just not a sustainable way to live.’ Her family (Liz, her husband and 13 year old son) had taken a few small steps towards a greener lifestyle in the past year, but she felt they were now ready to ‘take a big leap forward.’ ‘I was definitely nervous at the start, I kept thinking well, what if I need this or that. Like my son was starting secondary school, how was I going to make sure he had the things he needed? But then I was excited to get going, God knows I love a challenge!’

Buying nothing new, or reducing the number of new items we buy is a very positive step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Every item we buy, from clothing to electronics, has a carbon cost, from mining and harvesting of raw materials, through to production and packaging, then transportation and eventual disposal. By borrowing, reusing or simply making do with what we have we really can have a massive impact on the climate crisis.

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A week into the challenge and Liz was definitely starting to struggle. ‘A colleague in work tipped me off about a store having a closing down sale with huge discounts. It was a brand I love and it really took so much effort not to just buy a few new things, a t-shirt or pair of jeans for my son. I just had to tell myself, we don’t need these things. I have a closet full of clothes I don’t even wear.’ 

The next hurdle was getting over some heebie jeebies about buying second-hand. We met Liz near her home in Blackrock village in Dublin to see if they could tempt Liz into buying some preloved items. ‘I was really surprised at the selection in the charity shops, there was a beautiful Oxfam shop with some very high end shoes in it that I definitely wasn’t expecting. It was an eye-opening experience and I even bagged myself a lovely t-shirt that I now wear all the time.’ 

Buying second-hand online was also a new experience for Liz, ‘I checked out a lot of the online options – Thriftify, DePop, Siopa Eile. They all have their pros and cons. It’s definitely a lot easier to buy second-hand clothing online if you’re a regular size, for the rest of us it can be tricky. I was delighted to buy from Siopa Eile, they were great at building up trust and I got the chance to ask questions, which really helped me feel comfortable with the purchase.’ 

What initially started out as a one month challenge, turned into three months. ‘I just found I was really getting into it. My home was less cluttered, I had more head space. Things were actually simpler without all this extra stuff I didn’t need in my life. There were challenges for sure, there are things it’s just not that easy to source second-hand. But it’s absolutely changed the way I will buy into the future. Try it!!’ 

Want to Start your own Challenge. Here a few tips;

Click here for a list of second-hand stores in Ireland

Click here for a list of second-life clothing retailers in Ireland

And for tips on how to avoid buying stuff at all‘ click here

Also if you’d like to declutter at the same time you’ll find a lot of second-hand stores buy or take goods. Here’s a list of places to recycle and donate things in Ireland

Alternatively you can rehome things online and here are some tips on how to do that

Thank You
We’d like to thank the following people for their help with this episode;

  • Emma Gleeson, author of Stuff Happens
  • Oxfam Charity Shops, Blackrock, Co Dublin
  • Vincent de Paul Charity Shop, Blackrock, Co Dublin
  • Slowstreet Blackrock, Co Dublin

Thanks also to Andrew Sheeran for composing original music for us.

This podcast was researched and hosted by Elaine Butler and Sarah Sheeran. It was produced and edited by Sarah Sheeran.

If you would like to contribute to the production costs of the podcast, which are currently being covered by myself and Sarah, please find the Green Gambit on Patreon