COP26: Why it’s Time to Talk About Second-hand

Reducing, reusing and recycling are some of the best ways for all of us to make a difference when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. At Gumtree, our platform is built around finding new homes for second-hand items, so we know a thing or two about sustainability. As around 190 world leaders meet in Glasgow for the 2021 Climate Change Conference, we want second-hand to be part of the conversation.

COP 26

What is the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)?

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), leaders from countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994 all come together. The summit’s talks centre around how these countries will limit a global rise in temperature to under 2°C compared to pre-industrial times. At this 26th meeting of the leaders, the aim is to secure a global climate deal that will mean as many people as possible reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and going net-zero by 2050.

Why reusing items should be on everyone’s agenda

The Committee on Climate Change says that the average UK household needs to reduce its carbon footprint by 3.6 tonnes by 2030 to keep the country on track to meet its goals. Worryingly, in the last two years, local councils in England sent on average about seven double-decker buses of household item waste to landfill. Many of these items contain important metals and materials that could have been reused or recycled responsibly. Luckily, there are lots of things that can help with this and platforms like Gumtree can be a big help. You can reduce your carbon footprint a lot just by picking up freebies on Gumtree, buying second-hand and selling things you’re finished with rather than sending them to the landfill. The amount of carbon that can be saved by buying a second-hand appliance like a fridge, washing machine or dishwasher compared to new is equivalent to almost two years’ daily central heating. The carbon savings get even higher when we look at small electricals – the amount of carbon saved by buying a second-hand laptop is equivalent to more than three years’ worth of showers, assuming you shower every day.

Getting COP26 leaders on the edge of their seats

When this is such a big issue, why aren’t conference leaders talking about it or using second-hand items as part of the summit? The conference itself has been furnished with sustainable furniture, which is good, but wouldn’t it be even better to reuse furniture that already exists? To make our feelings about this clear, we wandered up to COP26 a few days early and collected second-hand chairs from the Glasgow area. We headed to a park to style them into a message that conference-goers couldn’t ignore, telling them to ‘sit on this’ instead of buying a brand new place to perch. These chairs will subsequently be redistributed to charity shops and local residents to prove our commitment to the circular economy.

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