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Brace yourself, the holidays are upon us again. For many, that means wincing at the bundle of cash you're about to drop.
Buying secondhand, either for yourself or others, is a great alternative. Not only does it save a bunch of money, it reduces waste and keeps products out of landfills. Now there's a browser plugin from secondhand shopping retailer Beni that turns any product search into a digital thrift store outing.
How to use Beni's secondhand shopping browser extension
First things first, it's time to de-stigmatize buying used stuff, and that includes buying gifts. The reduction of waste and packaging makes buying secondhand (or circular shopping, as it's known) a more forward-thinking alternative to new products. When it comes to many items, including electronics and clothing, buying lightly used can be a tremendous value with little downside.
The plugin works by offering secondhand alternatives to your online shopping searches. It directs users to the same or similar products on resale marketplaces such as The RealReal, Rent the Runway, Vestiaire Collective, eBay, Kidizen, and others. The idea is to make it as simple as possible for users to find and buy secondhand items that offer better value and a smaller environmental footprint.
1. Get the Beni plugin
Grab the plugin here. The plugin is currently only available for Chrome, so users of other browsers are out of luck for the moment. Once you have the plugin pin it for easy one-click access.
One thing to note, be sure to read the privacy implications and adjust your plugin settings accordingly. In order to work properly, Beni must be able to read and change all your data on websites. There's an option to allow it in incognito mode as well, although we don't recommend this for any plugin as Google Chrome will not be able to prevent extensions from recording your browser history. Leave this option disabled.
2. Using the Beni plugin
This is the easy part ... just shop how you normally do. To use Beni, simply browse your favorite retail websites (ie. Nordstrom) and find products that you'd like to buy for yourself or others. In order for the plugin to work properly it's important to click on a specific item's product page. Beni works with a variety of major retailers, including Patagonia, Nordstrom, Madewell, and over 600 others.
Okay, so you have your product in view. Now just click on the Beni browser extension and instantly see a curated list of secondhand alternatives from over 25 resale platforms. You'll see specific used items for sale that correspond with the product on the major brand page.
That's it! Just jump over to the used item, check out the description, and if the price and condition are to your liking, go with the used alternative.
Beni has some additional features that make it even more powerful. For example, you can filter by size, color, brand, and resale platform. You can also save your favorite items and create your own size profile.
What that means is that you can tune the plugin to your exact specs, allowing for even easier searching of popular used marketplaces.
Lastly, you can sort by price, ensuring you get the best deal on awesome apparel while keeping goods out of landfills and avoiding adding new soft goods to the chain of obsolescence.
Is Beni available for all browsers?
Not at this time. Currently, Beni is only available for Chrome and more recently Safari. The plugin just launched, so it's a safe bet its availability and compatibility will grow.
Are there other sites, apps or plugins that can help me shop secondhand?
Absolutely! Check out Depop and Asos Marketplace. And Ebay is still great for all kinds of things, including electronics and gadgets, which have a far longer lifespan in many cases than you might expect. For local alternatives try Craigslist, OfferUp, and local Facebook groups offering free or for-purchase used goods.
What's so great about buying secondhand?
The fashion industry produces a tremendous amount of waste (to say nothing of its frequently awful labor practices). Buying new feeds a cycle of production and consumption that uses vast resources for non-durable goods that generally end up in the landfill.
Besides that, the culture is changing. With 93% of US shoppers open to buying secondhand (up from 45% in 2016), the fashion resale industry has grown more popular. Shoppers now have access to a rapidly expanding number of resale options, including brand-owned resale offerings.