A secondhand or used good is a piece of personal property that is
being purchased by or otherwise transferred to a second or later end
user. A used good can also simply mean it is no longer in the same
condition as it was when transferred to the current owner. When the
term used means that an item has expended its purpose (such as a used
diaper), it is typically called garbage, instead.
Used goods may be transferred informally between friends and family
for free as hand-me-downs. They may be sold for a fraction of their
original price at garage sales, in bazaar-style fundraisers, in
privately owned consignment shops, or through online auctions. Some
things are typically sold in specialized shops, such as a car
dealership that specializes in the sale of used vehicles or a used
bookstore that sells used books. In other cases, such as a charity
shop, a wide variety of used goods might be handled by the same
establishment. High-value used luxury goods, such as antique
furniture, jewelry, and artwork, might be sold through an auction
house such as Sotheby's.
Governments require some used goods to be sold through regulated
markets, as in the case of items which have safety and legal issues,
such as used firearms or cars. For these items, government licensing
bodies require certification and registration of the sale, to prevent
the sale of stolen, unregistered, or unsafe goods. For some high-value
used goods, such as cars and motorcycles, governments regulate sales
of used goods to ensure that the government gets its sales tax revenue
from the sale.
3 Types of transfers
5.3 Used clothing
5.4 Other items
6 See also
Secondhand goods can benefit the purchaser as the price paid is lower
than that of the same items bought new. If the reduction in price more
than compensates for the possibly shorter remaining lifetime, lack of
warranty, and so on, there is a net benefit.
Selling unwanted goods secondhand instead of discarding them obviously
benefits the seller.
Recycling goods through the secondhand market reduces use of resources
in manufacturing new goods, and diminishes waste which must be
disposed of, both of which are significant environmental benefits.
However, manufacturers who profit from sales of new goods lose
corresponding sales. Scientific research shows that buying used goods
reduces carbon footprint and
CO2 emissions significantly compared to
the complete product life cycle, because of less production, raw
material sourcing and logistics. Often the relative carbon
footprint of production, raw material sourcing and the supply chain is
unknown. A scientific methodology has been made to analyze how much
CO2 emissions are reduced when buying used goods like secondhand
hardware versus new hardware.
Quality secondhand goods can be more durable than equivalent new
Secondhand goods may have faults which are not apparent even if
examined; purchasing sight unseen, for example, from an Internet
auction site, has further unknowns. Goods may cause problems beyond
their value; for example, furniture may have not easily seen
bedbugs, which may cause an infestation which is difficult and
expensive to eradicate. Faulty electrical and mechanical goods can be
hazardous and dangerous. This is especially a big issue if sold to
countries that do not have recycling facilities for these devices,
which has led to an issue with electronic waste.
Types of transfers
Many items that are considered obsolete and worthless in developed
countries, such as decade-old hand tools and clothes, are useful and
valuable in impoverished communities in the country or in developing
countries. Underdeveloped countries like Zambia are extremely
welcoming to donated secondhand clothing. At a time when the country's
economy was in severe decline, the used goods provided jobs by keeping
"many others busy with repairs and alterations". It has created a
type of spin-off economy at a time when many Zambians were out of
work. The used garments and materials that were donated to the country
also allowed for the production of "a wide range of fabrics" whose
imports had been previously restricted. The trade is essentially
executed by women who operate their small business based on local
associations and networks. Not only does this provide self-employment,
but it also increases household income and enhances the economy.
But while many countries would be welcoming of secondhand goods, it is
also true that there are countries in need who refuse donated items.
Countries like Poland, Philippines and Pakistan have been known to
reject secondhand items for "fear of venereal disease and risk to
personal hygiene". Similar to these countries, India also refuses
the import of secondhand clothing but will accept the import of wool
fibers, including mutilated hosiery which is a term meaning "woollen
garments shredded by machine in the West prior to export". Through
the production of shoddy (recycled wool), most of which is produced in
Northern India today, unused clothing can be recycled into fibres that
are spun into yarn for reuse in 'new' used goods.
United States taxpayers can deduct donations of used goods to
charitable organizations. Both
Goodwill Industries and the Salvation
Army websites have lists of items with their estimated range of
values. Another way that people transfer used goods is by giving them
to friends or relatives. When a person gives an item of some value
that they have used to someone else, such as a used car or a winter
coat, it is sometimes referred to as a "hand-me-down".
Online auction sites have become a popular way to sell used goods in
Used items can often be found for sale in thrift stores and pawnshops,
auctions, garage sales, and in more recent times online auctions. Some
stores sell both new and used goods (e.g. car dealerships), while
others only sell new goods but may take used items in exchange for
credit toward the purchase of newer goods. For example, some musical
instrument stores and high-end audio stores only sell new gear, but
they will accept good quality used items as trade ins towards the
purchase of new items; after the store purchases the used items, they
then sell them using online auctions or other services.
When an item is no longer of use to a person they may sell or pawn it,
especially when they are in need of money. Items can also be sold (or
taken away free of cost) as scrap (e.g. a broken-down old car will be
towed away for free for its scrap metal value). Owners may sell the
good themselves or to a dealer who then sells it on for a profit. They
may also choose to give it away to another person this is often
referred to as freecycling. However, because the process takes some
effort on part of the owner they may simply keep possession of it or
dump it at a landfill instead of going to the trouble of selling it.
It has been common to buy secondhand or used good on markets or
bazaars for long time. When the web became popular, it became common
with websites such as eBay and
As dumped used goods take up space in landfills, some may purchase
them for environmental motivations.
The strategy of buying used items is employed by some to save money,
as they are typically worth less than the equivalent new items.
Purchasing used items for reuse prevents them from becoming waste and
saves costly production of equivalent new goods. Motivations for
purchase include conserving natural resources and protecting the
environment, and may form part of a simple living plan.
Main article: Used car
Used cars like this 1980s-era
Toyota Corolla are very inexpensive, but
a buyer runs the risk of getting stuck with a lemon.
Used cars are especially notable for depreciating in value much faster
than many other items. Used cars may have been bought or leased by
their previous user, and may be purchased directly from the previous
owner or through a dealer.
George Akerlof published a paper entitled
"The Market for Lemons", examining the effects of information
asymmetry on the used car market. Used cars may require more
maintenance or have fewer features than later equivalent models.
Main article: Used book
Used books are often re-sold through a used bookstore. They may also
be given away, perhaps as part of a program such as the Little Free
Library's programs. Used bookstores may also sell secondhand music
recordings or videos.
In developed countries, unwanted used clothing is often donated to
charities that sort and sell it. Some of these distribute some of the
clothing to people on low incomes for free or a very low price. Others
sell all of the collected clothing in bulk to a commercial used
clothing redistributor, and then use the raised funds to finance their
activities. In the U.S., almost 5 billion pounds of clothing is
donated to charity shops each year. Only about 10% of it can be
re-sold by the charity shops. About a third of the donated clothing
is bought, usually in bulk and at a heavy discount, by commercial
dealers and fabric recyclers, who export it to other countries.
Some of the used clothes are also smuggled into Mexico.
Used clothing unsuitable for sale in an affluent market may still find
a buyer or end-user in another market, such as a student market or a
less affluent region of a developing country. In developing countries,
such as Zambia, secondhand clothing is sorted, recycled and sometimes
redistributed to other nations. Some of the scraps are kept and used
to create unique fashions which enable the locals to construct
identity. Not only does the trade represent a great source of
employment for women as well as men, it also supports other facets of
the economy: the merchants buy timber and other materials for their
stands, metal hangers to display clothing, and food and drinks for
customers. Carriers also find work as they transport the garments from
factories to various locations. The secondhand clothing trade is
central to the lives of many citizens dwelling in such countries. A
dress agent will often deal with a buyer and seller directly, taking
unwanted clothes that still have value, and reselling them in a
Importation of used clothing is sometimes opposed by the textile
industry in developing countries. They are concerned that fewer
people will buy the new clothes that they make when it is cheaper to
buy imported used clothing. Nearly all the clothes made in Mexico are
intended for export, and the Mexican textile industry opposes the
importation of used clothes.
The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, argues that secondhand
purchasing of furniture is the "greenest" way of furnishing a
Vintage guitars also became increasingly desired objects among
musicians and collectors during the nineties and afterwards. Some
music stores specialize in selling used musical instruments, used
copies of printed music, and related paraphernalia.
Look up goods, secondhand, or used in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Atomic Ed and the Black Hole, a documentary film about a unique
Car boot sale
Charity shop (also known as thrift store, hospice shop, resale shop,
op shop, or secondhand shop)
The Market for Lemons, a book discussing a phenomenon that may make it
difficult to maintain quality in markets for certain used goods, such
as computers and cars
^ Impact of closed-loop network configurations on carbon footprints: A
case study in copiers
Archived 2014-08-19 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Scientific Greener
CO2 calculator for reuse Archived 2013-01-24 at
^ Buying secondhand: an alternative to rampant consumerism of Black
^ Msnbc: What you need to know about bed bugs: "Do not buy used
furniture (especially bedding items or upholstered items) ... until
inspected carefully for any signs of bedbugs"
^ a b c d e f g Karen Tranberg-Hansen. 2004. Helping or hindering?
Controversies around the international second-hand clothing trade.
Anthropology Today 20(4):3-9.
^ Old duds, big bucks; Clothes you think you're donating to charity
are frequently sold for profit Toronto Sun, 2007-Jan-11, retrieved
^ a b c d e f Guo, Eileen (13 March 2018). "Here's What Really Happens
to Your Used Clothes - Racked". Racked. Vox Media. Retrieved
^ "Second hand by cosmood". cosmood.com. 2017-08-02. Retrieved
^ "Green Your Rental - Eco Furnishings - The Green Life".
Sierraclub.typepad.com. 2008-09-30. Retrieved