Find ‘the unfindable’

The hassle-free way to search secondhand sites and avoid buying new

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

Home » Find ‘the unfindable’

Published: 9 April 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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This article first appeared in our Love issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 09 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Making secondhand buying as smooth as the shopping experience you get in retail giants is a lofty goal, but that’s exactly what Jo Spolton set out to do when she co-founded 2Hand.co.uk.

‘A lot of life’s stuff can be reused and most things are out there if you look hard enough’, Jo tells us.

The only problem is the human attention span: 2Hand.co.uk research found that only 5% of us look in more than three places for a preloved version of what we want; if we don’t find it swiftly, 80% give up and buy new.

‘That’s a staggering testament to the instant shopping experience that we increasingly expect as standard’, Jo says. ‘To make secondhand first choice, we need to make it as easy as the experience offered by retail giants.’

Simultaneous searches

With 2Hand.co.uk, Jo has taken the hassle out of trawling charity shops, car boot sales and markets at a time when access to the high street has been limited.

Users can simultaneously search for specific secondhand products – from bikes and appliances to clothes and home furnishings – across a diverse range of online sources.

In just a few seconds, 2Hand.co.uk scours the internet and pulls all the relevant products together for you – complete with prices – to browse in a single window.

When we gave 2Hand.co.uk a try, a quick ‘smartphone’ search threw up 200 results from eBay, Preloved, Shpock and The Big Phone Store. Prices started at £9.99 (with free postage) for an unlocked Blackberry 9720 in ‘average condition’.

Find local items

2Hand.co.uk searches all the big names in secondhand buying and will check even more sites if you set your location and tell it where to look. You can then filter the search results so only local items are displayed.

‘Trash Nothing and Freegle are run around local groups, so by adding your location we know which ones to search for you’, Jo explains. ‘Plus it is more green to buy locally. There is always the chance that, on a site you don’t normally use, someone round the corner has posted what you want.’

By setting an alert for a specific product, you can even get on with your day while 2Hand.co.uk searches in the background.

As well as being a handy feature for the time-starved, the alerts are part of Jo’s wider mission to get people off their screens so they can engage with the things they enjoy. This is even more important after a series of lockdowns that changed many people’s relationship with the internet – and certainly altered the way we shop.

‘I think the meteoric rise we’ve seen in online retail will stay’, Jo tells us’, ‘because so many shops responded to the demand. But lockdown has also exposed the joy of sourcing locally.’

By connecting shoppers with local sellers and supporting a circular economy, 2Hand.co.uk is boosting the shift towards more conscious shopping in an online space that’s here to stay.

Changing consumer culture

In addition to bagging various bargains, 2Hand.co.uk’s community is helping to divert unwanted items from landfill and minimise waste. This is an issue close to Jo’s heart; after training as an artist at Central Saint Martins in London, she pursued her love of the ocean and raced yachts professionally for 10 years.

‘The Clipper Round the World Race and then the girls’ boat on the Volvo Race give you a view of the world you definitely don’t get from a desk’, Jo tells us. ‘In parts of the Mediterranean, the seas around Hong Kong and swirling around the globe in tidal currents are all sorts of things that shouldn’t be there. The most shameful are the products, created to satisfy global consumerism, that escape containers and are blown off ships before they reach their destination.’

With 2Hand.co.uk, Jo is helping to turn the tide on a wasteful consumer culture while pursuing a project that reflects her joy of getting a bargain. ‘I want the stigma of secondhand to be eradicated’, she tells us. ‘It should be a badge of honour to have found a bargain and to have given something a new lease of life.’

With awareness growing of how consumer choices affect the planet, more websites are appearing in this sector all the time. There couldn’t be a better time for 2Hand.co.uk.

‘The tide is turning now on reusing things’, Jo says. ‘Consumers are more powerful than they realise; if we all change our habits then the economic models will change from the ground up.

Our goal with 2Hand.co.uk is to make it possible for everyone to join the circular economy.’

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