Could you buy nothing ‘new’ for the whole of 2018?

The Zero Waste France campaign focuses especially on clothes, books, white goods, furniture, electronics, and high-tech gadgets

An eco-friendly association is asking consumers to not buy anything newly-made in 2018, especially when it comes to clothes, books, furniture, white goods and electronics.

The challenge, from French waste reduction campaigners Zero Waste France (ZWF), has already seen almost 2,000 people sign up to reduce the number of new objects they buy over the next 12 months, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of constant demand for new products.

Instead, the group argues, consumers should use existing or second-hand goods rather than continually replacing them with brand new items, especially in regards to clothes, books, white goods, furniture, electronics, and high-tech gadgets.

According to ZWF, each French person throws away 590kg in goods per year, contributing to pollution of our land, sea, and air.

Consumers are instead advised to look to sharing websites, and hire or swap products they do not have or that they would otherwise have thrown out. ZWF also advises buying items second-hand - either online or from second-hand shops - in a bid to avoid contributing to further pollution.

Some websites, ZWF explains, even provide listings for free items that their owners no longer need or want. Sites such as Freecycle allow you to search by region, and find items you need, or offer your own goods up to others, for free.

“There is already a huge amount of goods in circulation, and we must prioritise those rather than putting even more into the market,” explains Flore Berlingen, director of ZWF, speaking to French news source FranceInfo.

“Making new objects means extracting new raw materials, and using huge amounts of natural resources - energy, water and production processes. That is what we call ‘the ecological backpack’. For example - behind a smartphone that weighs a few hundred grams, there is actually 70kg of consumption behind it.”

For goods that are “simply not repairable or reusable”, ZWF is also campaigning to put an end to “built-in obsolescence” - the phenomenon that sees companies deliberately reduce the working life of a product to encourage consumers to buy again once their goods inevitably break.

“We’re asking for these products to last longer, and avoid this frenetic, perpetual ‘renewing’ process,” said Berlingen.

Certain companies have been accused of this practice in recent months, including printer company Epson, which was targeted in France after consumer protection group Halte à l'obsolescence programmée (HOP) asked authorities to launch an official investigation.

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