How You Can Save Money and the Planet

May 10, 2022

Is reusing and recycling rather than buying new a good way to boost your finances, and the health of the planet?

Thrifting and upcycling are relatively recent additions to a long list of buzzwords peddled by websites and social media influencers, and it would be easy to put them in the same flash in the pan basket as fad diets, moth memes and the ice bucket challenge.

But don’t be too quick to dismiss these ideas. With a closer look at thrifting and upcycling, you might unearth ways of refreshing the look of your home and wardrobe at a much lower cost to both your wallet and the environment.

Why does it matter?

We are well trained in a habit of constant consumption, keeping pace with ever-changing trends and styles. We keep going back to shopping malls and multinational chain stores, desperate to add the latest look to our repertoire.

But that behaviour often comes at a cost. As items are constantly replaced to keep up with whatever is currently in fashion, those items are also being produced with speed, mass production and low costs in mind, rather than being made to last. And as we buy the latest products, the old ones end up piling up in our landfills: In New Zealand, it’s been estimated that 25 per cent of the clothing that goes to landfill is “perfectly fine”.

It also takes huge amounts of essential resources to manufacture these products. For example, it takes almost 7000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans. The process of making that same pair of jeans will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to a 130 km car journey. Cotton used for textiles also makes up 20 per cent of worldwide use of pesticides, which leads to chemical contamination of nearby water and soil.

What about what we’ve already got?

Thrift shopping at second-hand stores, or using online options such as Trade Me, are an excellent option for reducing your footprint. Not only that, but there is endless potential to uncover hidden gems among selections of clothing and accessories.

The items are likely to be far more affordable than brand-new ones of similar quality, and you never know what you might find – maybe something distinctive and unique, or maybe an item that inspires you to try new and creative ways of using things.

While we’re all trying to do our bit to shop local and keep money flowing through the New Zealand economy, frequenting secondhand stores could be another way to do your bit, even if money is tight.

Key tips to keep in mind:

  • To reduce the risk of needless overbuying, remember what you’re shopping for. If you’re looking for jeans or boots, focus your search on those items.
  • Look for good-quality construction and materials, and things that are well-tailored.
  • You can’t go wrong with proven brands. They have stood the test of time for a reason.


Another great way to achieve something fresh is to upcycle – reuse and reimagine the things that you might already have. Here are a few ideas you could consider.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.