One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
I sold my glass jug blender today on Gumtree. Not exactly front page news, I know, but bear with me.
When I got my new kitchen robot I listed my Magimix food processor and my jug blender on Gumtree straightaway. The Magimix sold almost instantly for the money I asked; they are solid gadgets with fantastic motors and I knew it would be easy. I did not have such optimism for the blender. It’s not a bad blender and it still works, but it wasn’t a great brand, it didn’t have a massive motor and it was a few years old. There was only one other same-model Magimix on Gumtree when I listed mine; there were hundreds of blenders.
I listed it anyway, and after a week, rather unexpectedly, I got a call. Someone wanted to buy it, and offered $20. Rather amazed that I’d even got the call in the first place I agreed (I’d listed it for $30).
When the guy turned up, he explained that he had the same blender and the glass jug had fallen off the kitchen bench and smashed. He’d called the manufacturer who’d told him the price of a new jug…and the price of a new blender. Guess which one was cheaper? Yep, the whole unit. They actually advised him on the phone to just order a whole new unit. But rather than buy a new one, he’d checked on Gumtree first, and there was mine.
It makes me so mad that companies do that deliberately. One bit breaks and you have to replace the whole thing. It’s so incredibly wasteful. Of course it doesn’t make sense that a whole unit would be cheaper than its parts. Yet it always seems to be that way. I feel like they’re trying to condition us to never try to repair things or replace parts, but mindlessly buy new ones instead.
We don’t have to stand for that! That’s why sites like Gumtree and eBay are so useful. They give all the people who need replacement parts access to loads of people who have replacement parts. We don’t have to let these companies have their way!
If I’d have sent that blender to the charity shop, there’s a chance it would have gone to landfill anyway. Not all charity shops accept electrical goods, and they also need to be able to test them for electrical safety. Plus I sometimes feel that sending stuff to the charity shops is shirking our responsibility a little bit. It’s too easy to dump our unwanted stuff and feel good about giving to charity when there’s no guarantee they’ll actually want what we’ve given them. This way I can be sure that the item I’m selling has gone on to a new home where it will be used.
People sometimes think I’m crazy for listing things on Gumtree for such small amounts of money. (I have listed things on there for free, but the lowest price I’ve listed something for was 50 cents – and it got a buyer!) But it’s not about the money. It’s about diverting something from landfill and stopping somebody else buying something brand new when there’s a suitable second-hand alternative. Double win! The argument that you haven’t got the time? Seriously?! You need to take a photo, upload it and write a short description. You can do it from your mobile phone in about 1 minute. Not exactly labour intensive!
I’m feeling pretty smug that I thwarted the electronic company’s attempt to get a new sale, pleased that I was able to give the guy exactly what he was looking for, and glad the blender isn’t stuck on a dusty shelf in a charity shop or heading to landfill.
If you’ve got stuff that’s broken or got parts missing, it’s doesn’t mean no-one will want it. I bet for every functioning blender with the glass jug broken, there’s another with an intact jug but a burnt-out motor. Even if you think something’s beyond salvage, someone else may find it useful for an art or sculpture project. Before you chuck it in the bin, give it a go on the second-hand listings sites. You’ve got nothing to lose!
Great article :)
I would like to add a little idea I’ve had, hopefully someone somewhere will take it up one day… So many items are thrown out because one small plastic part is broken. And now we have 3D printers that print plastic objects. Couldn’t these be used to make replacement parts?
And you can feed your 3D-printer with old PET-bottles :) (I know someone who has a 3D printer like that). So then you are also recycling plastic!
That is possibly the most amazing idea ever!
Great post. You’ve reminded me of all the things still in the basement that I kept, thinking “somebody can use this for parts”, but haven’t done anything about. (I feel basement cleaning in my future) And I LOVE the 3D printer idea too.
I have to say, when I first heard about 3D printers I wasn’t particularly impressed. Probably because there was a lot of press about people printing guns and weapons. But now I see that they could be really super useful!
…And yes, that “planned obsolescence” is horrible. I remember when I first took an appliance in for repair and heard that “it can’t be done” and was astonished at the waste.
We need to think more about how we recycle, reuse and repair things. Living on a farm, we just naturally twitch things back together when they break or find another purpose for something that no longer does the job. We live too far from shops and are frugal by nature to simply replace things. As our economy gets tighter, those of us who are more resourceful and who are open to bartering may end up better off.
Fantastic blog..great suggestions.Thanks to all of you!
I live on the small island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Very few people have a garage so on Saturdays we have porch sales. We also have an online porch sale page on Facebook. The shortage of supply combined with the high cost of things makes this a very popular page. What’s so funny is that often it turns into a mini auction with people bidding against each other and driving the price to sometimes double of what was originally asked! One man’s treasure indeed!
That’s so cool! It’s too easy for most people to go to the shops and buy new stuff without considering the consequences. I think it’s fantastic that you live in a place where people value things in that way : )
Amen! It is so absolutely true. With a little patience and effort, so much could be diverted from a landfill/ending up in our oceans, etc. I listed a bunch of stuff of Kijiji for free here in Canada when we were doing up a baby room, and it was amazing how many takers there were!
: ) It’s so true. Too many people think their stuff is no good to anyone else, and it’s such a waste. I have to add, whenever I’ve given anything away free on Freecycle or Gumtree, the people who collect have always been super courteous and helpful, and really appreciative (more so than if they’re paying). It’s just so much better than sticking something out the front of your house and hoping that someone will take it away before it gets smashed up/rained on/whatever!
I completely agree with everything you say here! In fact, as I pack to move country, I have been putting up the stuff I don’t use on my website, so people can find treasure in my trash! I hate it when people tell me I should “just buy a new one” because they believe the immediate financial savings are worth it; they choose to be ignorant to the fact that the environmental, social, health and even financial costs in the long-run are far too severe to make such a frivolous choice!
Thanks Allie! Good luck selling your things and finding new homes for your unwanted “treasure”!
I appreciate that! I have faith the right owner will come in due time :)