June 17, 2021
New research from online marketplace Gumtree finds Australians are sitting on a goldmine worth $48 billion that benefits both people and planet.
Look around your home. How many items do you see that you rarely or never use?
According to Gumtree’s research report Trading in the Circular Economy, Australian households are holding on to an average of 21 pre-loved, unwanted or unused items that could earn them $5,300 when sold through an online community marketplace. The value of trading pre-loved items in the circular economy in Australia is estimated to be worth more than $48 billion and, with an increase of 4 per cent in the last 12 months and 89 per cent over the last 10 years, it continues to grow.
The cherry on top of this enticing sundae is that participation in circular trading through online marketplaces is also a great way to reduce your impact on the planet. Finding new homes for your unwanted and pre-loved items ensures those materials stay in circulation, reducing demand for new natural resources and energy to produce new products. As a community marketplace, Gumtree allows Australians to share more and waste less.
Key findings from the report:
In the past year, Australians have diverted approximately 110 million items from landfill through selling pre-loved or unused items
56 per cent of Australians trading through the circular economy as a means to practise sustainability did so to help reduce their impact on the environment
87 per cent of Australians are holding onto pre-loved or unused items that could be sold through online community marketplaces
53 per cent of Australians who experienced a decrease in revenue or income due to COVID-19 turned to circular trading to supplement loss of income
An encouraging trend highlighted in the report indicates many Australians are already participating in circular trading as a form of positive environmental action. More than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed said their use of trading pre-loved items in the circular economy was directly linked to a desire to reduce consumerism and recycle more, while 50 per cent said they wanted to reduce waste to landfill and 33 per cent wanted to be ‘conscious consumers’.
Planet Ark’s Head of Circular Economy Development, Dr Nicole Garofano, sees online marketplaces as an integral component of the ‘circular economy’ that mutually benefits communities and the environment.
“The beauty of the circular economy is that, as part of our communities, we can all help each other out,” said Dr Garofano.
“Your unwanted item taking up space might be exactly the thing your neighbour needs to transform their home. The planet needs a community marketplace like Gumtree to give us the tools we need to unlock our financial freedom and the sustainability of our planet at the same time.”
Gumtree’s online marketplace enables seven million people every month to participate in the circular economy by trading pre-loved, unwanted and unused goods, whether they realise that’s what they are doing or not. In the past year, 86% of Australians have saved pre-loved items from going into landfill by selling them in the circular economy. On average, these individuals saved 16 items on average which equates to approximately 110 million items being saved from landfill.
The items likely to make the most money when sold are clothing and accessories followed by electronics – two of the fastest growing waste streams in Australia. Australians send approximately six tonnes of textiles to landfill every minute, while also having one of the highest rates of electronic waste (21.7 kilograms per person) in the world.
While this may seem like a grim portrait of Australian consumerism, Planet Ark research indicates 72 per cent of Australians are concerned about waste. Online marketplaces are part of the solution, providing Australians with a platform to make mindful purchases and responsibly dispose of unwanted belongings.
The key to increasing participation will be in informing the public of the environmental and personal benefits of the ‘sharing economy’. With almost one in two Australians reporting the pandemic affected their income in some way, online trading presents an opportunity for Australians to regain financial security.
Managing Director for Gumtree Australia, Mark Kehoe, said many Australians are trading pre-loved items online to supplement loss of income.
“We know that when we trade together, we save together and our hope is that the findings in the report can go some way to encourage more communities across Australia to discover the financial benefits of the circular economy while, at the same time, making better choices for the planet,” said Mr Kehoe.
“The items making people money are everyday items, which shows just how simple it is!”
Before you begin rifling through your wardrobe and garage for unused belongings, check out Gumtree’s list of the most common pre-loved, unwanted, and unused items Australians have lying around the house for inspiration. And remember, if your item doesn’t sell, chances are there is a recycling option available. Visit Recycling Near You to find recycling options in your area.
Clothing, Shoes and Accessories (60%)
Music, DVDs and CDs (42%)
Electronic Goods (40%)
Games and Toys (37%)
Home Décor/Furniture (31%)
Sports Equipment (23%)
Tools/Gardening/DIY items (21%)
Whitegoods/Home Appliances (19%)
Download the Trading in the Circular Economy research report.
Rachael joined Planet Ark in early 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael loves using her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys spending time in nature and immersing herself in arts and culture.