I’m always amazed by how excited people are with new gadgets (the unveiling of each generation of the iPhone is broadcast live worldwide…it’s just a phone!). Our society’s constant thirst for new products justifies unsustainable practices in the industries that have set out to satisfy (and stimulate) our ever-increasing desires. Non renewable natural resources are being extracted at unprecedented rates, global manufacturing supply chains consume huge amounts of energy … Europeans typically consumes 43kg of natural resources every day (Have a look at the excellent report from SERI)!
There are several steps we can take as individuals to lower our personal resource footprint. The first step is to question and space out our needs (do I really need to replace my cell phone every other year?). It’s also a good idea to repair items, instead of replacing them right away with new products.
Buying second-hand can also be part of the solution. While it will never completely eliminate our personal resource footprint, it will limit the need for natural resources and our consumption of grey energy. And of course… buying second-hand is also good for your wallet!
The internet is a great place to shop for second-hand products. eBay is quite popular in Belgium and Kidonaki is a local alternative with a twist: proceeds of all transactions fund local non-profit organizations. 2ème Main, Vivastreet and Vlan offer local classifieds.
Looking for real world second-hand shopping experience? Here are a few shops in Brussels:
Oxfam Solidarité (One of the four branches of Oxfam in Belgium) refurbishes and sells second-hand IT equipment in Ixelles (Chaussée d’Ixelles 252). Les Petits Riens is a Belgian non-profit, they sell IT equipment at their Ixelles store.
White goods and household products
The non-profit Res-Sources coordinates electroREV a local quality certificate for second-hand and refurbished white goods. You’ll find these second-hand products at Les Petits Rien‘s Ixelles location. You’ll find household products at their Chaussée d’Helmet location and at 5 of Oxfam’s shops in Brussels (Look for the little couch logo on their list).
Pringle of Belgium shares here Top10 of vintage clothing stores in Brussels, and so does John Brunton. Sunbeams also have a list. You’ll find several vintage clothing shops in the streets around Saint Gerry.
Episode is a good place to start, you can even shop online. Oxfam Solidarité sells second-hand clothing at most of its locations around town (look for the T-shirt logo on their locations page), and so does Les Petits Riens. Cash Converters (5 locations around town) and Rec’Up quality-certified locations (2 shops in Brussels) are also good.
Sports Equipment and Bikes
You’ll also find second-hand bikes on Sundays, around the Gare du Midi. If your bike was stolen recently in Brussels … chances are you’ll find it here…
Cash Converters (5 locations around town) and Rec’Up quality-certified locations (2 shops in Brussels) will also typically have bicycles. Apparently, for bikes, the best websites are 2ème Main and Vivastreet (thanks Isak for the tip!). Troc-velo.be and VeloNet.be are two other bike specific alternatives.