I grew up in a home decorated with odds and ends picked up in charity shops, alongside family hand-me-downs. Being surrounded by items with backstories obviously rubbed off on me: when I moved into a house share at the beginning of my second year at university, most of the stuff I took with me was secondhand.
Alongside my new bed sheets and bike lights, I packed blue-edged dinner plates and floral cushions I’d found in junk shops, two massive fans bought for the sum total of £6 from a car-boot sale, tons of battered paperbacks from Oxfam bookshops, and vintage trunks spotted at flea markets.
I get excited by secondhand shopping for all sorts of reasons. Top of the list is money. Whether it’s clothes or crockery, there are always bargains to be found. Ghenet Pinderhughes, who was a student in London last year, says: “Secondhand stuff tends to be good quality and a much better price.”
It’s not just small things either. Zoe Holder, who studied at Cambridge, had a friend who bought a sofa from a charity shop. The two of them had to manhandle it all the way across town. “The best bit was being stopped by the police for pushing the sofa on the road.”
The second reason I love secondhand things is because of the way they look. Old magazines are great for collages or pinboards. And you can end up with ridiculously kitsch, funny things – all the multicoloured glass you could want, or, as in the case of Keziah Pooley, who studied French in Birmingham, a yellow bakelite phone for a fiver.
I love the thrill of the hunt, the chance of a wonderful discovery. I enjoy the unpredictability of bric-a-brac shelves -the enticing and the downright bizarre sit side-by-side, potential purchases hidden behind novelty picture frames and grim-looking second hand toiletry sets.
Consider buying essentials secondhand. Think mugs, teapots, cutlery, rugs, maybe the odd caffetiere. Lola Byatt, studying chemistry at Warwick, says: “I have bought secondhand loaf tins, muffin tins, cake tins, cooling racks. They just look better than the ones you can get in high street shops.” Emily Petretta, studying history at Royal Holloway, bought a Hunters and Palmers 1960s biscuit tin “because the colours were so vibrant and lovely”.
But the most important reason for buying secondhand is sustainability. You’re using and recycling things that have already had a previous life. It makes sense to purchase old stuff rather than waste money on brand-new items. And with charity shops, you get the added bonus of knowing that your money is being spent constructively.
Source: Rosalind Jana | Junk shop junkies: why secondhand has become so desirable | Education | The Guardian