Virtually all South Africans have items in their homes they aren’t actively using – 99% of us, in fact, according to a survey done by Gumtree South Africa.
The informal study asked respondents about the items that end up unused in their homes, including small appliances, sporting goods, baby and children’s items and furniture.
“The most typical items that end up unused are the ones we typically enjoy once or twice, or use for a single occasion – a bridesmaid dress or an annual textbook – and stuff in the cupboard or the garage,” says Claire Cobbledick, Head of Marketing for Gumtree. “But there is still value in them.”
The environment impact of these unused items can quite significant. 62% of individuals are holding onto clothes that don’t fit, but the other big culprits are small appliances (such as waffle makers or carving knives) (9%), Camping gear (12%), Cellphones (21%), DVDs (40.5%), CDs (34.5%), books (42,3%), bicycles (12,4%) and dining sets (15.04%).
“A small portion of respondents have owned up to owning at least one of every single item of the list that they don’t use, which could represent up to R27,500 – R35,000 on the second hand market, depending on the quality and condition,” says Cobbledick. “This does include high-value items such as cars, motorbikes, boats, trailers or caravans that often end up gathering dust in the garage for years, despite being worth tens of thousands of rands in the second hand market.”
However, not everyone is taking advantage of the uptake of the “second hand economy”. More than a third of respondents prefer to give unused items away, while almost 2% throw their goods away and 14.5% relegate unwanted items to their spare rooms or garage. The reasons for this are legion – with about a quarter of respondents stating “sentimental reasons” as the biggest barrier. Almost 20% do not believe there is a market for their unused goods while 12% say they simply don’t know how to go about selling their stuff. 11% state that safety is a concern.
“Actually admitting that one has bought something and not used it is a minor psychological defeat,” says Cobbledick. “It’s admitting that you’ve wasted money or made a poor purchase decision. Or that you don’t fit into your designer jeans anymore!”
But Cobbledick says that once households add up what their goods are worth, as well as how easy it is to sell, they are quicker to part with their clutter. “Classifieds are easier to use than ever – you can literally snap a picture, fill in a few fields and upload your ad in less than a minute. And with services such as Shepherd and Motofinn entering the market offering safe facilitation of transactions, there are ways and means of trading virtually risk-free.”
The benefits of reselling extend further than just our pockets, says Cobbledick. “Every 1 kg of clothes reused, for example, saves 4 kgs of CO2. And according to Causes International, the volume of discarded electronic products will soon weigh the equivalent of eight of the Great Pyramids of Egypt as consumers tend to hold onto their old cellphones and laptops. You will be surprised at how much money can be recovered if consumers simply sell their old cellphones with every upgrade,” says Cobbledick.
But for the average South Africa, goodwill is the most important factor when it comes to reselling. “A whopping 85% of South Africans feel that we should be selling our unused items, because it gives others a chance to buy items they couldn’t otherwise afford – ahead of reasons such as the environment or economy,” says Cobbledick.
Those who aren’t keen to sell their items can also make use of Gumtree’s Charity Donation section.