What if we could reduce the amount of waste being taken to transfer stations, reduce the percentage of that waste that ends up in landfill, and reduce virgin resource use, all without changing our habits?
We know from studies that people are willing to preference environmentally conscious products, so long as they offer equal functionality to conventional products. In addition, brands in all areas, from fashion to transportation, are bringing out new retro styled or ‘vintaged’ products to meet consumer demand. Retailers like Schots Home Emporium and Deus Ex Machina are going from strength to strength offering products that look like they are from another era. Despite this, second-hand, repaired, and upcycled products make up only a small portion of Australia’s overall retail landscape. If shoppers are willing to buy sustainable products, and are seeking out retro and vintage looking products, there must be a reason that they are not flocking to the genuine article. There must be needs that are not being met, and I believe that those needs are not reflected in the products themselves, but in the way that they are sold.
If I want to purchase a new dining table, I can walk into one of a dozen or more well recognised retailers in any city in Australia, or shop with many of those same retailers online, and have my table delivered and assembled for me. I have an expectation of the table’s finish quality, as well as of its durability, and its ability to meet any relevant safety standards.
If I was to look to spend the same amount on a second-hand table, my journey would be much more difficult. Online marketplaces offer potentially cheaper alternatives, but are harder to search, potentially require greater travel and a means of transportation. Furthermore the quality cannot be assured until the table is viewed in person. Shopping in person is no easier. At the lower end of the market, op-shops and vintage markets offer no way of checking in advance whether they have a table suitable for you. They also offer limited product knowledge from staff, and unknown quality, as there is no differentiation between second-hand, repaired, and recreated products. Stores offering high quality restored furniture tend to only offer specific styles or eras, and are often priced out of reach of the average consumer. I believe that the issues described above capture some of the core reasons more consumers do not shop for reclaimed products.
Now, what if we were to open a store full of reclaimed products? A store that offered all of the benefits and convenience of a conventional retail store. A store with an online presence, as well as a physical presence in an accessible location. A store where products are conveniently and accessibly laid out, and with knowledgeable staff. A store stocked only with products that are as safe, as reliable, as durable, and as functional as their new equivalents, and with consistent pricing across product ranges.
By applying all of the benefits of new product shopping to an outlet that sells only reclaimed products, we eliminate the barriers to buying more environmentally conscious, lower waste products. In doing so, we reduce waste in disposal, landfill, and manufacturing.
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