My second-hand life

I’m not buying anything new for the next year. I’m going frugal on this and saving money too, and I’m going to share all this with you, dear reader. I’m already feeling great about it!

What could be better – saving money and helping the planet at the same time?

It started on my birthday, which is 13 April so I’m one week in. I started with my birthday present from my long-suffering wife Sue, a 2nd-hand merino wool t-shirt. I kind of ruined the romance a bit by asking her what it cost.

I started with my birthday present from my long-suffering wife Sue, a 2nd-hand merino wool t-shirt. I kind of ruined the romance a bit by asking her what it cost.


what Sue paid -£18 plus P&P

same item, new – £60 plus P&P

what we saved – £42

total saved so far – £42

why second-hand?

I love second-hand, I love saving money. Who doesn’t? I love making my stuff go further. I love fixing things, even when I can’t. Now I’m going to go further in being just a bit less of a consumer. 

The planet has too many people on it – people to feed, people to house – and we’re all consuming stuff like it’s 1960. Everyone’s blaming the government and big business, but who’s actually living within the Earth’s means?

The logic is simple. Everything I don’t buy new doesn’t have to be made. No valuable materials have to be dug up, no oil or coal mined to provide the energy to make it, and a lot less distance to get it to me. 


  1. Food
  2. Anything I assess as a health need

That’s not to say I’ll succeed in buying everything else second-hand, but I’ll give it a good try.

why merino wool?


  1. It’s not cotton. According to the World Wildlife Fund it takes 2700 litres of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt, in a world that’s already desperately short of water
  2. Pesticides. Cotton also uses 10-16% of the world’s pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants), more than any other single major crop 
  3. Polluting chemicals. Chemicals used in the processing of cotton pollute the air and surface waters
  4. Biodiversity. Pesticides cause decreased biodiversity and shifting equilibrium of ecosystems 

Feel-Good factor

  1. Merinos are regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep. It feels great on your skin
  2. Runners and hikers love merino wool. It can absorb around a third of its own weight before it leaves you feeling damp, and it dries quickly, which is handy if you’re the outdoors type

It’s not just me: reuse is making a comeback … 

Time is the enemy of the frugal. Buy it now! This deal ends Sunday! Why wait? We are time poor, and the marketeers know it. They know we are too busy trying to make ends meet or commuting to some distant office to have time to shop around. They probably depend on it.

Then there’s “nice and shiny”. Nice-and-shiny is another enemy of the frugal. What is it inside of us that needs everything we own to look new? It’s only going to last a few weeks like that, then whatever it was you bought will start to look like all your other possessions: at home, comfy.

In the case of our beautiful shiny new 5-seater sofa this process took about three hours – long enough for the cat to scratch it.

So watch this space. I know there are going to be challenges along the way – like learning to smile sweetly while presenting an old friend with an old, dog-eared book – but I know I’m going to have a lot of fun, if no one else does. And that matters.

7 Replies to “My second-hand life

  1. Hey Clive, I am the biggest sinner when it comes to shopping, so I am going to definitely be aware of this philosophy this next year. You and Sue are inspirations. Thanks for giving me motivation! Btw, I am horrible about reading emails. Messenger is my go to communication.

  2. Wow! Inspirational challenge! I already buy quite little, but not buying at all.. I am seriously contemplating trying this for maybe a month to start with.. thanks for being an inspiration and sharing your experience!

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