How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Thrift Store Appliances

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Thrift Store Appliances

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Thrift Store Appliances


Reducing your carbon footprint is an important step in fighting climate change. One way I have found to do this is by purchasing used appliances from thrift stores instead of buying new. Buying secondhand not only saves money, but also significantly reduces the emissions created from manufacturing new appliances. In this article, I will discuss the benefits of buying used appliances and provide tips on how to find quality secondhand appliances that will help lower your carbon footprint.

Benefits of Buying Used Appliances

There are several key benefits to purchasing used appliances rather than new:

Lower Manufacturing Emissions

New appliances require a lot of energy and resources to manufacture. This includes mining raw materials, transporting parts, powering factories, and more. When you buy a used appliance instead of new, you avoid most of these manufacturing emissions. Studies show that reusing an existing appliance is typically better for the environment than buying a new energy-efficient model because so much energy has already been expended to build that original product.

Save Money

Used appliances are much more affordable than new options. Thrift stores like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStore offer gently used appliances at a fraction of the cost of buying new. For example, you may find a refrigerator for $100 at a thrift store versus $800 or more for a new energy-efficient model. The lower price makes it easier to upgrade to more efficient appliances.

Reduce Waste

When you purchase a used appliance instead of new, you help reduce waste and keep functional appliances out of landfills. With new appliance sales growing worldwide, electronic waste is becoming a major environmental problem. Extending the life of existing appliances through reuse helps combat this waste crisis.

Finding Quality Used Appliances

Purchasing used appliances takes more research and care than buying new. Follow these tips when shopping for secondhand appliances:

Shop Established Thrift Stores

Look for reputable thrift stores in your area that test appliances before selling them. Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStores are great options. Avoid sketchy sidewalk sales or listings if you want appliances guaranteed to work.

Inspect Carefully

Thoroughly inspect each used appliance for damage and wear and tear. Open doors to check shelves and compartments. Look for rust, dents, or broken parts. Test all functions and settings to ensure they work properly. Avoid appliances with significant damage or missing pieces.

Consider Energy Efficiency

Check the EnergyGuide label to see estimated energy use and operating costs. While used appliances won’t be as efficient as new ENERGY STAR models, you can still find relatively high-efficiency secondhand options. Focus on the most energy-intensive appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and water heaters.

Ask About Age

Inquire about the age and history of each appliance. Appliances typically last 10-20 years, sometimes longer. While an older appliance could fail sooner, it may also have many useful years left at a great value. Get a sense of realistic longevity.

Look Up Reviews

Research the make and model online to see what issues it may be prone to based on reviews. Look for durable brands and models known to have long lifespans. This can help avoid duds.

Consider Guarantees

Some thrift stores offer short return guarantees on appliances, usually 30 days. This gives you some assurance in case it stops working soon after purchase. Opt for appliances with a guarantee when possible.

Use Tips to Maximize Lifespan

To get your money’s worth from used appliances, implement some best practices:

  • Maintain appliances according to manufacturer directions, cleaning filters and replacing worn parts.

  • Use energy-saving settings like auto-defrost on refrigerators to improve efficiency and component lifespans.

  • Upgrade old appliances with new gaskets, hoses, belts, trap primers, and other inexpensive replacement parts.

  • Repair minor issues yourself to avoid costly service calls. Watch tutorial videos to learn basic repairs.

  • Limit opening and unloading appliances to reduce wear. Let refrigerators fully cool before reopening and run full loads in washers and dishwashers.

The Environmental Benefits Add Up

Choosing to buy secondhand appliances rather than new is an impactful step toward reducing your carbon footprint. The manufacturing emissions avoided, energy efficiency gained, waste diverted, and financial savings ultimately add up to significant environmental benefits. By purchasing thrift store appliances, you allow pre-owned appliances to live out their usable lives, reducing the demand for new products. Your actions multiply since many others can continue using appliances you no longer need. With some research and careful selection, you can find quality used appliances that serve you well while lightening your environmental impact.