Sold the Toaster, bought…an iPad?!

Sold the Toaster, bought…an iPad?!

Inspired by Tiny, the movie I saw a couple of weeks ago, and reinvigorated to declutter, I’ve been listing things on Gumtree this week and I’ve had some success. People want to buy my old stuff!

I’ve talked before about why I think selling stuff can be better than donating it to the charity shop. There’s no guarantee the charity shop will want it, and with electrical goods, not all places will accept them as they need to be tested. If you can find a new owner yourself, that is the best outcome from a waste point of view. If you give something away for free, it’s harder for people to say no, even if they don’t actually want it – they see a bargain!


We put the toaster in a cupboard six months ago as a test to see if we really need it. After all, we have a grill, and we had a small kitchen with limited bench space. Now we’ve moved, we have even less bench space.

BREAKING NEWS! The grill will make toast just as acceptably as a toaster! Who’d have thought it?!

We don’t eat bread very often, and when we do, the grill is perfectly adequate for our needs. I’m the kind of person who stands over the toaster, impatiently popping it up to see if the toast is ready, so having to watch over the grill isn’t a problem. It’s not like bread takes a long time to toast!

Besides the toaster, we’ve had $2 here and $3 there, and amused but happy people removing clutter from our house this week. The toaster lady was looking for a toaster for her workplace, and thought to check Gumtree before buying a rubbishy cheap one from the store. We sold our dustbuster vacuum (something my boyfriend has owned for years) which was fine for floorboards, but completely impractical for our carpeted flat. The guy who bought it had just purchased a cheap vacuum for $40. The first time he used it, it died (taking planned obsolescence to the extreme?!). So he checked on Gumtree, saw we lived round the corner and gave us $5 for ours. He was blown away by the fact he could buy a vacuum for $5! An Electrolux, no less! We were happy to be rid of it, but I also hope that these transactions inspire people to look on Gumtree or eBay for what is available second-hand before buying something new.

Which brings me to my next confession…

We’ve bought an iPad.


I would love to say we don’t need one, but after much debate (probably a year’s worth!) we gave in and decided to get a tablet. We only have one laptop and no TV, and my boyfriend likes to watch DVDs on the laptop. I like to use it for all my blogging, research and other projects. Rivalry!

My phone is so completely useless it barely does anything other than make calls, and I thought a tablet might be a practical alternative. Laptops really aren’t that portable, are they?

I looked at all the second hand sites, but as I was buying something that expensive (second-hand ones sell for almost as much as new ones) I wanted the guarantee it wasn’t stolen or faulty.

I actually found a compromise via the Apple Store. They sell refurbished products (my sister bought a refurbished computer from them a while back and it’s been perfect). A refurbished product is basically a pre-owned product that has been returned to the store and repaired for reselling. Buying from Apple means it still comes with a guarantee. I’d seen other stores that offer this too, but customer comments told me that replacement screens were often cheap knockoffs, and not very good, and the guarantees are much less.

I think my boyfriend was expecting a beaten-up old thing to arrive in a bashed-up cardboard box. But no, it arrived looking just like new. It even had the unhelpful plastic cover wrapped around it!

Sad face : (

Stupid plastic protective iPad Cover

Despite the plastic cover and my guilt over questionable ethics (you can read an article I wrote about ethical electronics here), I have to say, I’m actually blown away by how clever, fast and useful the tablet is proving to be! It’s much easier to read from than a laptop, it’s better for looking things up, and it means I can finally get round to learning how Twitter works! (If you’re on Twitter, follow me at @TreadMyOwnPath, and feel free to give me tips on how it all works – I’m a newbie!)

So out with the old, and in with the new. Overall we still have less than we started with, and the iPad is something we actually use, so I feel like we’re still heading in the right direction. Plus, I sold the toaster using the iPad! That’s some consolation, surely?!

What do you think? Am I just kidding myself ?! How do you feel about splashing out on new technology? More importantly, could you get rid of your toaster?!

PS Whilst the decluttering is going well, I still haven’t tackled the wardrobe. I’m putting off, I mean, putting it back to next week.  : /

25 Responses to Sold the Toaster, bought…an iPad?!

  1. I have an iPad Mini and love it. I didn’t think I really NEEDED it, I just wanted it. So, I saved every 2-pound coin that came my way for about 20 months and used that to buy the iPad. That way, it really didn’t hurt my purse. But this was all before I had any major ethical concerns. I had a vague idea that Apple isn’t quite ethical, but my reasoning was that neither was anyone else in the business (apparently that’s not true, I have since learned). However, I have used Apple since the mid-90s and really can’t see myself ever switching back to Windows.

    My current Apple PowerBook is 5 years old and still doing well. When it dies one day, I will first try to get it fixed and if that’s not possible, I’ll definitely get a refurbished one.

    Having the iPad has helped me reduce paper waste. A couple of magazines I subscribe to now come electronically and are easy to read on the iPad. Plus: You can carry them everywhere. All of them. The same is true for books. Without this technology, I wouldn’t even consider a “tiny” lifestyle. With it, I can.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I have to agree, Apple products do work well. It’s just a shame the technology moves so fast that things become obsolete so quickly too : (

      I made sure we had the newest model available so it would last the longest. They only started selling refurbished iPad Airs fairly recently in Australia, so I was holding on for that.

      I definitely agree it is great for paper saving! I never realised before how easy they are to read from. Plus you can download eBooks, PDFs etc so it definitely saves on the clutter too. Our library actually loans e-magazines so we’re going to look into that.

      I remember a while ago reading an article saying that technology makes it easier to live with less, and it’s true. One tablet vs a library of books or magazine subscriptions, or notepads and paper files.

      One iPad and one laptop and no TV between two people isn’t so bad, really…but I still feel guilty buying new electronic gadgets. Well, I did, but I’m so amazed by how practical it is that my guilt is subsiding!

  2. I am totally torn on the toaster thing. We have a toaster we never use because we have always preferred grilling the bread. My partner and I have radically different ideas on what “done” toast looks like and a grill suits both our needs… but…

    A toaster uses a fraction of the energy a grill uses to toast the same bread. Sigh – probably another one of those no win, choose the best of a bad option situations.

    Great news that other people have been benefiting so much from you selling your stuff though!

    • We actually have a gas grill now which I imagine is more efficient than an electric one as it’s hot right from the start. I suppose if you grill a LOT of bread it’s more efficient, but you can’t exactly make your toast for the week on Monday.

      However, what about the energy used to make the toaster?! If you include that maybe the grill IS best…?!

      Still, it’s clutter, get rid of it! I like having the surfaces clearer : ) It is also very freeing, having less.

      Thanks for your comment! : )

  3. Gumtree is brilliant. I have been selling a lot of baby items on there as my little one outgrows them. I just sold some pre-loved cloth nappies on there yesterday! I’ll be using Gumtree a lot more as we go through a similar decluttering process in our household.

    But out of all the gadgets I am considering rehoming, my iPad is definitely not one of them! I love it and use it for everything – paying bills, shopping lists, to do lists, managing photos, keeping up to date with current affairs (and blogs!), and most importantly storing all my books. Up until now I have been a hoarder of hard copy books – something I thought I would never be able to gain control over until I discovered iBooks! So definitely a positive when it comes to saving paper and gaining storage space, as mentioned above.

    I shall look you up on twitter!

    • Gumtree is great, it’s amazing what people will buy. My boyfriend’s parents got into it after my influence and they are constantly amazed that people pay them for stuff they don’t want!

      I thought the iPad would’ve useful, but as I keep saying, I’m totally blown away by how practical it is! I can see great things coming from having it. Really, I can. I still marvel at how small and thin and light and clever it is, too…I feel like someone who’s time travelled and ended up in the future!

  4. I never would sell my toaster! We use it every single day (our dogs love toasted bread…)
    And I never would buy a product from Apple. Perhaps Apple is the worst company, they exploit their workers, things are not compatible with others, childrenlabor, aso.
    Sorry, Lindsey, this Apple tablet and your new phone from fairphone don’t fit together ;(

    • I love that your dogs eat toast!

      I’ve been looking into electronics companies for a while, and I found this report super helpful

      Apple was actually voted as one of the better companies, alongside Nokia, LG and Microsoft. That said, the report recognises that they still have a long way to go. They aren’t the worst – but as the most successful, maybe they are in the best position to BE the best…and they’re not.

      We’ve been talking about getting a tablet for probably over a year…so we’ve thought long and hard about it. We looked at alternatives, but finding refurbished ones is quite difficult (here at least). Ultimately we decided it would be better/helpful/useful to have one. I hope the fact that it’s well made means it lasts a long time…I don’t think I could bring myself to buy another one. Of course I really hope in the future companies like Fairphone bring out tablets too.

  5. I’m typing this comment on my MacBook Air. To my left, sits my iPhone. So I can’t judge anyone for buying a refurbished iPad. If you want or need a new device, refurbished seems like the best route to go, even if Apple is evil. If we all shopped this conscientiously, we would greatly reduce our waste.

    I’ve used Freecycle (it’s operates in many countries) to get rid of stuff. You can post things on there that you want to give away or ask for things that you’re looking for. I’ve also given away things on Craigslist.

    I love decluttering! I’ll do a lot after my kids return to school.

    • I think there is something to be said for buying the best you can afford, and looking after it properly to make it last. Their products are fantastic quality so hopefully it will last a long time.

      I’ve used Freecycle before, and I have to say, the people who collect stuff for free are the most helpful, polite and conscientious of all the listing sites! Probably the “free”-ness helps, but they reply to messages, let you know what time they’ll arrive and THEY TURN UP ON TIME! The amount of people who’ve been intending to buy stuff from me on Gumtree that after not showing up, when questioned inform me that their relative has been hit by a car/rushed to hospital/severely sick. I’m not even joking. Maybe some ARE genuine…maybe they all are and Gumtree is cursed! Bit of a coincidence though…!

  6. Then again… I’ve read that reading things on devices requires more energy than reading things on paper. And paper comes from renewable resources (even if not from well-managed renewable resources) whereas there’s nothing renewable about a tablet computer.

    I’ve been thinking hard about this since I backed up all my photos on Google but haven’t really reached a solution.

    And for toast, I do like toast a lot more when made on a cast-iron frypan, but it takes a while to heat up. A lot of effort for one toast. I do use the frypan when I make scrambled eggs for breakfast, then I can use the same burner for scrambling eggs. But I haven’t taken the plunge with getting rid of the toaster yet.

  7. More energy from an electricity point-of-view maybe, but less energy for me! : p Yes, you’re right of course. I’d love to have solar panels but sadly we rent. You could argue that trucking/shipping books all across the globe also uses a whole heap of energy, whereas emailing electronically uses far less. Gah, it’s always a compromise!

    Toast in a cast-iron frypan – I like that idea! I used to make toasted sandwiches in a flying pan, I like how there’s no corner ridges. Getting rid of the toaster depends how often you eat toast, I guess too! : )

  8. I agree with most of the comments above although I don’t own any apple products myself I believe they are better than many others out there when it comes to environmental concerns. One thing I didn’t see mentioned in the comments was the issue of refurbished products. We have a shopping outlet about 45 minutes away that has a Sony store that sells all refurbished products. Most of these were bought and returned for any number of reasons within the amount of time allowed by the store they purchased the item. The manufacturer then repairs the issue and sells it as refurbished. If people don’t look for refurbished first then manufacturers won’t have incentive to repair these items and will just trash them and write them off as a loss on their profit margins to off-set taxes. Anyone who wants/needs a new item and believes in sustainability should consider these products.

    • I’m sure that some people return them just because the next latest thing has come out, but I like that shops recognise there is still value in them. I would not have brought a brand new one, no way! We spent so much time debating and looking, but Apple seem to be the only place here that sell refurbished items. Of course, I would have bought new if there was a sustainable ethical alternative – I would LOVE to give my money to a company like that! But there’s not. Yet…?!

      Fingers crossed by the time this one needs replacing there will be!

      • My fingers are crossed. I hated spending money on my new laptop last year and couldn’t find a single sustainable manufacturer so I then went with a notebook to reduce the amount of plastic used and went with the one with the longest running battery to save on how often it needed plugged in. So far so good.

        • I have to confess I didn’t think about either of those things! Well I knew I wanted a tablet that was this size, so I guess the plastic is pretty similar. Actually the back is made from metal (and the front from glass) so there’s probably not a huge amount of plastic. The energy usage is a good point – I suppose I just assumed that they’d all be similar. I’m hoping I an use a solar charger to charge it so I’m not using non-renewable energy as much as possible.

          • I’m looking for a solar charger that will work on both my phone and my notebook but I only have an east facing window at the moment and the reviews I’ve read aren’t too promising. I did see a crank flashlight that will charge phones I’m considering it. It takes me a long time to make decisions on purchases, by the time I make a decision there might be a really good product available.

  9. I don’t have a toaster and use the grill. Not enough space on my worktops for a toaster! I definitely tend to buy tech and then keep it forever, I’d never be one of those instant upgrade people. My other half (he of the 100 things minimalist nature) used to upgrade his iPhone every time it came out, selling the old one. But he’s seen the error of his ways ( which I like to think was my influence!) and bought a refurbished iPhone 5 and will keep that for longer.

    Though he used to upgrade his phone, he did only literally own 100 things, which all (except his bicycle, he’s not a car owner) fit into one large rucksack, and his argument was always that his ‘life’ was on his phone and so he needed the best one available. Given that meant all his photos, music, audiobooks, financial stuff, stored paperwork (via dropbox) etc etc, I could see why…

    • Technology definitely helps on the road to minimalism! I feel guilty owning a phone and a tablet, except the phone barely functions. But I will be getting a Fairphone shortly and then I’ll have two gadgets : / Still, I don’t (and have never) had an iPod, we don’t have a TV, we only have one music player so it could be worse. I could never reduce my stuff to 100 things *sighs* Has he always been like this, or was it a gradual process of letting things go?

      Good work on the influencing! Refurbished are just as good as brand new, and there’s no need to upgrade on the first day! : )

    • Sometimes I feel silly, but I think it’s the right thing to do. At the weekend I sold 20 plastic hangers for $2 – my old neighbour left them behind. Charity shops have hundreds of them and wouldn’t have wanted any more, yet to buy a pack of 8 costs a few dollars, so I figured someone would want them. And they did! It meant something old got another lease of life, and it stopped more brand new stuff being sold. And I got $2! Don’t worry, I didn’t spend it all at once… : \

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