The “ew” factor in second-hand purchasing

We all know that actually the world is a disgusting place. Supposedly we eat little spiders in our sleep

Hee hee Don't imagine eating this spider. You'll never sleep again. (Photo from here)
Hee hee Don’t imagine eating this spider. You’ll never sleep again. (Photo from here)

And we breathe in everyone else’s dead skin cells all the time (not that I love the idea of breathing in my own). So if I’m already surrounded by grossness, why did it take me so long to get used to the idea of buying a refurbished computer instead of a new one?

It’s not as if the new computer is created in a vacuum with absolutely no human contact. It was probably touched by the hands of a man who didn’t wash up after relieving himself just as much as the refurbished one.

holding hands
Ew! That’s just disgusting! (Picture from here.)

In the end I bought a refurbished computer because I really needed a new one and I simply could not afford a shiny new one. So I got a less-though-still-quite-shiny one instead.

And since that purchase a week ago, I have done a splendid job at convincing myself that not only did I do the right thing for my pocket book, I also did good for all the world, humanity and my soul.

I think my aversion to used products stems from our consumerism society which idealizes new crap. Shiny. New. Wrapped so tight you can barely open it.

But what is so ideal about new stuff? Especially considering that often the old crap is better than the new, for example when it comes to clothing and furniture. As someone online said, if they buy a comforter that has been washed many time and is still in great shape, they know they can wash it many more times and it will hold up.

But ew!

OK, Mr. Yahoo Answers, that’s really nice logic but you forgot about the ew factor, as my friend Christina so eloquently put it. I don’t care how much better old comforters are than new ones. I’d rather eat five spiders in my lifetime than purchase a comforter used by strangers.

Christina said that she always weighs the ew factor into the equation. If it is too high – for example, with mattresses and underwear – then she buys new.

When it came to my computer purchase, I was also concerned I’d buy a piece of garbage and have no one to turn to. Luckily, my sister bought a computers from the same place right before me and when one of the computers didn’t work properly, they picked it up right away and sent her a new (refurbished, of course) one within two days. So I knew I could rely on their service. (By the way, I’ve also since had amazing service from them. I made the order on Wednesday. They said it would take up to 18 business days for delivery. It arrived on Sunday!)

I also loved the fact that I had almost no choices. They offer a few Dell computers, all of which are good in different ways and you just choose from those options.

yyy logo

Oh right, and they’re called y-y-y. Say that out loud, those of you who know Hebrew. It’s an adorable name.

When I think about it, it was actually way less stressful than buying a new computer. When I even think about going into Best Buy or Bug, I immediately start getting panicky from the abundance of useless choice that these stores offer. As Barry Schwartz said (in regards to the paradox of choice), once you have so much choice, you can never feel fully satisfied with a purchase ever again. Because there is always something better out there. Always. Basically you always feel screwed and miserable when you purchase new items in stores like Old Navy and Starbucks.

I. Think. I’m. About. To. Panic. (Photo from here.)

The more I think about it, the more I realize that actually the best thing I can do for myself and the environment is purchase the left-over yet totally great computer. What would happen to it otherwise? It would go into some ridiculous storage space (self-storage is a $22 billion industry in the USA now) for the next 50 years and then go into a land dump? It boggles the mind to think about all the new production going on when we’ve produced so much decent stuff already.

We are cluttering the world and we are cluttering our lives.

And so I bought a refurbished computer for the first time ever. And if I keep loving it the way I do right now – it’s exactly what I wanted and it’s so beautiful and shiny (really!) and new even though it has a bit more history than a new one – I hope to never buy a totally new computer ever again.

But now really, please be serious, readers

I know I joked a little in this piece but now I need you to get really serious for a moment. This educational video will help you figure out how to navigate thrift shops so that you can also begin to help the world and help yourself by buying second hand stuff. (OK fine, beware of some language that is not for the sensitive neshamas):

I actually don’t like shopping and I hate the bargain hunt. Huge racks of random clothing make me about as panicky as Best Buy and Bug.

But I think I’m going to try it. A used clothing store has opened on Azza (this is instead of Minerva – see my post from yesterday). I can’t afford to purchase new clothes right now. So why don’t I see if I can find anything there? I will need to first acquire some time and patience and I’ll need to go when my hair is already frizzy (curly-haired people will know what I mean). But maybe I’ll try it… 

And one day, if I’m really brave, maybe I’ll try to get free stuff on Agora. Well, that might not happen for a while.

Le’at le’at.

Para para.

Shwaye shwyahe.

About the Author
Deena writes about life, relationships and her beloved Jerusalem. She organizes "Jerusalem Encounters" and shares hand-picked cultural events in her online calendar, Things to do in Jerusalem.