Sustainable Shopping: Online

Abi Kara-Fernandes

As much as we all love an extensive hunt through the countless charity shops and thrift stores that Nottingham has to offer, what could be better than grabbing a cheeky deal from the comfort of your bed? All of this whilst saving unwanted items from landfill. Here are some of my favourite ways to shop sustainably from your phone.


I could not start this list without first talking about my all-time favourite – and extremely underrated – app: OLIO. Founded by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One, initially to combat food wastage, this app connects local people together by sharing their unwanted items.

To browse the listings in your area, all you need to do is: download the app, create an account, set your location and distance settings, and you’re good to go. The listings are divided into two categories: food and non-food. Once you find something that sparks your interest, you can request the item and organise a pick-up through private messages. I can’t begin to explain the absolute gems I have gotten from this app, from brand new dresses and make up, to near-perfect bookshelves and photo frames.

Your exact location is not given out until you have arranged a pick-up

Oh, and did I mention, absolutely EVERYTHING is free!

OLIO also makes it just as easy to give away your spare items, without having to drag a heaving bag of donations to a charity shop. To list an item all you need is a photo, description, and information regarding when and where the item is available to be picked up. Your exact location is not given out until you have arranged a pick-up. Also, for added safety, you could always choose to meet in a public location rather than at your house.

For added incentive to use OLIO, you are rewarded badges the more you use it. This included “Community Hero” and “Zero Waste” to make you feel like the true Sustainable Superhero you are. On top of this, all OLIO users receive ratings from each other after collection, so you can be reassured that you’re not dealing with time wasters.


Facebook Marketplace

Similarly to OLIO, Facebook Marketplace allows you to search for items within your desired area, without the hassle of creating yet another account. There are a handful of items given away for free, usually if you pick them up within a specified time frame, and most other items are priced fairly due to them being second hand. Payment will usually be made in person after you collect your item, so you can be certain you are getting what you pay for. Be careful when collecting from strangers and try to avoid doing so on your own, particularly if you are having to pay a large amount of cash.


Short for SHop in your POCKet, Shpock is an online car boot sale site for both iPhone and Android users. Items are listed with pictures, descriptions and prices, under one of nine categories: Fashion and Accessories; Home and Garden; Electronics; Movies, Books and Music; Baby and Child; Sport, Leisure and Games; Services; Cars and Motor; and Other. Once you find an item you are interested in, you can contact the seller to negotiate a price. However, it is then up to both you and the seller to agree on delivery and payment. Shpock does not get involved with this so take precautions to ensure your safety and security.

I have spent countless hours searching through the Pets section trying to convince my parents to let me get one


Preloved is another website where items for sale can be listed. I’m not ashamed to admit I have spent countless hours searching through the Pets section trying to convince my parents to let me get one. Whilst there are numerous listings available, with a handy specific “Freeloved” section, it costs £5 for a Full year membership, and £15 for Premium.



The Craigslist website is basic to use and is similar to Shpock, with five main categories, and plenty of other subcategories and forums. If I’m being honest, the best part of Craigslist (and Gumtree) is seeking out the weird ads to send to your friends.

Through buying on the app, you can be almost certain of not being scammed, as if your item does not arrive, you will be refunded


With over 15 million users, the global marketplace of Depop has definitely taken the world by storm and is most specifically targeted at selling clothes. Through buying on the app, you can be almost certain of not being scammed, as if your item does not arrive, you will be refunded. Although I use Depop to sell my clothes on, it is definitely not one of my favourite apps, with both Depop and Paypal taking a hefty fee each time something is sold. It’s the price you pay for convenience!


It may seem old school, but eBay is still up and running. I find it to be much more reliable than Depop as each item listed has extensive categories to be filled in as prompts, including measurements and condition, accompanied by up to twelve pictures – three times the Depop limit.

Bidding on “auction” listings on eBay gives me the nostalgia of hassling my mum to place bids on all my favourite toys when I was a child, and it is ideal to grab you a bargain. “Buy it now” listings are also available where sellers simply list their items with the required price. If the seller has allowed offers on the item, you can submit these through eBay, giving them 48 hours to respond.


Happy sustainable shopping!


Abi Kara-Fernandes

Featured image courtesy of Joel Penner via Flickr. No changes made to this image. Image licence can be found here.  

In-article images courtesy of Depop and Facebook Marketplace via Instagram. No changes made to these images. 

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