06/28/2016 05:09 EDT | Updated 06/29/2016 10:59 EDT

Think Second-Hand To Save On Your Summer Adventures

flyzone via Getty Images
A couple of wooden Muskoka chairs sitting on the dock with a lake and cottages across in the background. Perfect for cottage related applications

Like many, I know summer is here when my calendar starts to fill up with a variety of activities -- barbecues, sporting events, patio time, family road trips, picnics and cottage time. Who doesn't want to take advantage of this time of year before the Canadian winter takes hold again? But, there's a hitch -- cost. All of this summertime fun requires coin, so needless to say, by the time September rolls around, funds are depleted.

Have no fear, there is an easy way to earn and even save money to help fund your summer adventures -- the second-hand economy.

The practice of second-hand is not a new concept. It involves extending the lifespan of products by providing their reuse by other individuals. This economy can take on a number of different forms including donations, second-hand purchases, exchanges, free sharing, paid sharing, rental or lending.

Over the years, I've looked to the second-hand economy to find unique treasures (I have to admit, Star Wars collectibles are a weakness). Working for Canada's largest online classifieds site, Kijiji, has helped me look beyond treasure-hunting and see the real benefits of participating in the second-hand economy -- saving and making money! As a new dad of two, I've recently unloaded some gently used baby items -- strollers sell fast!

The recently released second annual Second-Hand Economy Index closely examines the second-hand economy in Canada. It reveals that nearly 85 per cent of Canadians participated in some form of second-hand transaction last year. On average, Canadians earned approximately $883 each per year through second-hand economy sales and saved about $480 each by buying second-hand goods instead of new ones.

Imagine what summer memories you could create with this extra money in your pocket! It could mean an unforgettable family camping trip or an epic road trip across country with friends. Or, for me, a killer pair of kicks to hit the patio in after work.

According to the index, these economic motivations (saving and earning money) rank as the most important motivator (75 per cent) for acquiring second-hand goods. The environment comes in second (65 per cent) with Canadians motivated by the opportunity to recycle unwanted items (60 per cent), reduce waste (56 per cent) or demonstrate eco-responsibility (51 per cent).

But how much impact does the second-hand economy actually have on the environment? In the last year, the average Canadian granted a second life to 77 products. That's 1.85 billion items! This represents a one-point increase in the number of items granted a second life compared to last year. That may seem small, but think again -- it's equal to an additional 24.9 million items!

Opportunities to participate in the second-hand economy continue to grow with online platforms. Over 14 million Canadians participate in the Kijiji community each month, buying and selling right in their own communities.

With summer upon us, great deals are already popping up online that will help anyone have a blast this season:

  • Brand new luggage for the trip to the family reunion
  • Mountain bikes to explore scenic trails
  • A top of the line camping trailer for romantic nights away from the city
  • Kayaks for cottage fun

If you are looking to pad your pockets to fund a cottage rental or long weekend barbecue, consider what you have at home collecting dust. How about that elliptical machine you didn't use all winter? The unused camera you got as a present? The clothing your kids have outgrown? Participating in the second-hand economy is a true win-win for Canadians and the environment, it bolsters bank accounts and gives gently used items a second life.

Once you determine what to sell, it's important to make your ad stand out. Especially considering that 2.5 ads are posted on Kijiji almost every second of every day, equaling 150 ads every minute. Here are some tips to help you get your ad noticed and your items sold:

  • Thorough titles

    Include important facts such as brand name, product name, size and price in your title in order to get people to read your full ad.

  • Detailed descriptions

    Provide as much detail as possible. Where applicable, include measurements of the item, history of the item. Also outline the condition (new vs. used). Be honest about the state of the item; don't be afraid to say the item is scratched or damaged and if you have made an effort to clean it.

  • Pictures

    Images are everything. Don't use stock pictures or images from another website. Buyers want to see the actual item if they are interested. Think about good lighting, close ups and clarity.

  • Conditions of the sale

    Is your item "first come, first serve?" When is full payment expected (upon pick up, for example)? Is the price negotiable?

  • Respond promptly to email inquiries about your ad

    Buyers lose interest quickly. Reply to every inquiry. If you are holding the item for someone, let others know that you will get back to them if the sale does not go through.

  • Be creative!

    Many of the most-viewed ads on Kijiji are different than the rest. One way to achieve this is with humour, another is creative storytelling to pique interest in your item.

Humour can also be a great asset. Some of the most memorable ads I've seen are ones that border on the wacky with creative titles and descriptions. Online ads act as a window into Canadian culture; shaped by seasons, trending topics and important causes. For example, ads that criticize beloved sports teams and offer to pay someone to take tickets, or creative descriptions of unique collectibles. After all, who doesn't need a beard hat?

All in all, the second-hand economy offers great benefits for Canadians and can help them make the most of the season. And, it can help you earn and save money, not to mention make a positive impact on the environment by giving items a second life. This summer, think second hand and consider how you can put more money in your pocket to create a summer like no other.

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