Last Sunday I found myself running around Brighton and Shoreham with Jon, picking up new and new to me things that made me incredibly happy for one reason or another. It felt like a really good weekend of zero waste-ness, and not just that - it felt like a good weekend of really being in touch with those around me and enjoying the fruits of the labour of setting up connections with others.
So what did I do last Sunday?
- Bought a secondhand slow cooker for £5 (something I’ve been wanting for years!) from a woman in Brighton.
- Picked up a couple of kilos of trombocini squash from a neighbour who had too many after harvesting them from her allotment.
- Received a beautiful new houseplant courtesy of a friend in thanks for dog sitting for her a few months ago.
An armful of tasty veg, a new and incredibly useful kitchen appliance and a happy little plant friend! What a winning day right? And it got me thinking about the variety of ways that I use the internet or apps on my phone to get things I need (or, let’s be honest) want, without running out and buying something brand new.
With that in mind, I put this post together to hopefully provide a jumping off point for others who are also trying to connect with those near them in order to close up our local economies and help each other out. (Although I don’t have any tips for getting your amazing friends to give you plants in thanks….sorry!)
Here are some of the apps I love for zero waste/sustainable living!
Olio for food that your neighbours can’t/won’t use
This is the app that got me my sweet sweet kilo of squash for free. It’s very easy to use - just list your address, and when someone around you has a food item (or occasionally food-related items like condiments) that they want to get rid of, it pops up. Then you send them a message if you want it, they give you a pick up spot, and that’s that. Free! This app obviously works better in highly populated areas, but I love it so far. I’ve even seen someone list a late night McDonald’s on there? Hahaaaa.
Too good to waste for restaurant food that will be thrown away
This is essentially the restaurant version of Olio and I would 100000% recommend it! While you can’t get free food from it for the most part, restaurants offer up their leftovers of the day near closing time for cheap (like, £2-5 for a “grab bag”) in order to prevent the food from heading to landfill. Lots of bakeries and coffee shops seem to list on there, but the listings differ from day to day and will obviously depend on what restaurants are near you (near me I’ve seen bagels, curries, sushi, paella and bubble tea!). It’s amazing.
Facebook buy/sell/swap groups for a little bit of everything
This is where I got my beloved slow cooker. These definitely take more time and work - trawling through badly photographed furniture is not particularly fun. But sometimes you find a gem, and again, you’ll be keeping things out of landfill and giving it a new home. Look for groups that cover your town, region, or county - there are probably several of them, and often they are broken down even further by interest (mum and baby buy/sell/swap groups, for example).
Depop for secondhand clothes (high street, high end, and vintage)
Does sifting through every rack in the local charity shop stress you out? Allow me to introduce you to Depop. It’s like if a very cool charity shop had a poppin’ instagram that showed you how the clothes actually looked, and also allowed you to buy via the app. Particularly great for vintage shopping, and you can list and sell your own things as well. Other similar apps I’ve heard of but not used include Vinted in the UK, and Poshmark and thredUp in the USA.
Freecycle/Gumtree/Craigslist for kitchen things and furniture
These three are all so similar that I’ve listed them together. And while there seem to be lots of...crap listed on these sites, it’s always worth a look on them before heading straight to a regular brick and mortar like Ikea. I’ve found these sites to be especially good for large home goods like tables, chairs, beds, etc. Also bikes, and kitchen things (have you SEEN how many gorgeous Le Creusets are on Gumtree?? It’s insane).
And that’s my little round up! These are the apps that I use regularly to find things secondhand in my neighbourhood, but I’m eager to find out what everyone else is using. What are your favourites? Share them in the comments below!