Rediscovering Thrift and Sustainability on Facebook Marketplace

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We are currently living in the age of the digital yard sale. A vast marketplace of goods is literally available at our fingertips. For parents, this convenience is great, but perhaps even more encouraging is the opportunity it provides to buy and sell at a pace that can be sustained by growing kids, growing families, and changing tastes. For new parents especially, the idea of having a place to buy and sell baby clothes, furniture, and toys is critical. Let’s face it, the days of baby registries are going by the wayside. Today’s families are rediscovering the idea of thrift, and online, community-based commerce sites like Facebook Marketplace are driving the movement.

Let’s set the stage. With the rate that kids outgrow their shoes, clothing, and toys, it can seem frivolous to always buy new. Now take first-time parents, who often add everything they think they’ll need and use for their baby to a wish list. The items on that wish list are given as gifts, but once baby comes the new parents quickly succumb to the realization that they’ll never even use nor do they need all of this stuff. Those are two common scenarios, and parents on both sides of those examples are looking for a place to buy what they need and shed what they don’t.

When it comes to using sites like Facebook Marketplace, there is a sense of convenience that suits the often hectic pacing of today’s parents. The same could be said for the e-commerce industry as a whole, but what sets platforms like Facebook’s apart is that it exists within an actual community of people, neighbors, and enhances the very idea of social media. I recently spoke with a fellow blogger and soon-to-be parent, Kait Schulhof of A Clean Bee, about how convenience, community and sustainability lend to a cleaner life, and how Facebook in particular helps put her philosophy for clean, natural living to practice.

Convenience

The idea of convenience means ease of use, but in the world of e-commerce, convenience also means one-stop shopping from wherever, whenever.

“As a buyer, it is so easy to sort items by product category and scan on your phone on Marketplace. I anticipate doing this regularly during late night feedings,” explains Kait Schulhof of A Clean Bee. “Anything to save time (and make money!) as a new parent is an easy win. I have had great success finding products and furniture to outfit our baby’s nursery on Marketplace, including a BOB Revolution SE Jogging Stroller – purchased for $150 (saved $440), an IKEA HEMNES 8 drawer dresser (doubling as a changing table) – purchased for $140 (saved $110) and a Baby Bjorn mesh baby carrier – purchased for $30 (saved over $130).”

“As a seller,” Schulhof added, “listing items also couldn’t be easier – you can quickly upload photos from your phone, type in a description and price information then post your listing in less than 5 minutes from start to finish.”

Community

Facebook is the biggest online community in the world, and has both the widest and most localized reach of any e-commerce site. While there are certain risks to be conscious of when dealing in such a large and open community, there are also great opportunities for communication and connections with like-minded people with similar family dynamics.

“Because Facebook Marketplace is housed within Facebook, you are able to preview the social profiles of any sellers you are interested in messaging,” explains Schulhof. “Doing this always helps me determine my level of comfort with proceeding with a purchase. For instance, if I notice the seller is smoking cigarettes or is posting photos with their cat (my husband is very allergic to cats!) then I know that their listing probably isn’t the one for me or my family.”

“Marketplace also offers a unique way for me to connect with my community,” she adds. “There have been a handful of instances where I have purchased items for my newborn from other moms who have babies and kids a few months or a year older than mine. When I meet them to pick up the item(s) they often have additional hand-me-downs to share and good advice (I discovered a great local “new mom” group via a Facebook Marketplace seller) for me as I enter the life stage they are exiting.”

Sustainability and Thrift

In this age of waste, the very idea of thrift is factoring into the future of how we consume and recycle everyday items like furniture, clothing, and toys. Imagine if everyone bought new? The environmental toll would be massive, but the economics would be unsustainable as well. In a recent TED talk, material innovator Andrew Dent explained that there is no such thing as throwing something away. His talk supports the idea of thrift, of using and reusing what you need so you don’t have to purchase anything new. What better way to start following that standard than by shopping second-hand?

“Sustainability is one of the biggest motivators for me when shopping for quality second-hand items on Facebook Marketplace, especially when it comes to baby products,” says Schulhof. “Most of these items – clothes, baby baths, bassinet, and more — will be used for less than 6 months before baby grows out of them. Plus, many baby and kid products are assembled using materials like plastic made from non-renewable resources and are difficult to properly recycle. If we aren’t careful we could be contributing to tons of waste just by preparing for our little ones. Buying second-hand brings me peace of mind that I am doing my small part to minimize my contribution to environmental waste.”

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