Second-hand Tech: a way to save money

The rising cost of living is causing concern for UK families, who are worried about affording day-to-day necessities. Many are planning to spend less this festive season and are looking for ways to save money. Buying second-hand tech is one such option, with Music Magpie and UK Gym Equipment refurbishing unwanted electronics and commercial exercise machines, respectively, and providing sustainable solutions for consumers.


Anna Cargan, a 35-year-old mother of three living in Cumbria, is turning down the thermostat and shopping at budget supermarkets to save money this Christmas. She started saving for the holiday season in January and has noticed how expensive things have become.

Cargan plans to buy second-hand tech to cut costs and has saved around £600 by purchasing used phones. Many UK adults share similar concerns, with 86% worried about affording day-to-day necessities, and 70% planning to spend less this holiday season, according to research by PWC and Accenture. Half of the survey respondents plan to cut back on Christmas presents.She purchased second-hand phones from Music Magpie, a company that started selling second-hand CDs and DVDs from a garage in Stockport in 2007. Music Magpie now has two workshops in the UK and one in the US, where they refurbish unwanted electronics. The company’s chief sustainability officer, Sam Vesey, recommends selling unused tech to fund present buying, stating that there are roughly £600 of unused tech per household, which is approximately £16bn nationwide. According to research by consultancy firm PWC, 70% of UK adults plan to spend less this Christmas, with almost half intending to cut back on Christmas presents.

According to Sam Vesey, the chief sustainability officer at Music Magpie, buying pre-owned tech is becoming more accepted, with an increasing number of companies offering refurbished electronics. This means that buying second-hand no longer has the stigma it once did, and people are happy to say they have a refurbished device. Ms Vesey also suggests selling old tech to fund present buying, as there are estimates that people have around £600 worth of unused tech, equating to about £16bn nationwide. E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream, with only 17% of it collected and recycled in 2019. The International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum predicts that over 5.3 billion mobile phones alone will be discarded in 2022. Valuable materials, such as gold and platinum, worth about £47bn, are dumped or burned every year, rather than being collected for reuse.

Music Magpie, a company that started as a seller of second-hand CDs and DVDs, now refurbishes unwanted electronics, including phones, and has seen an increase in demand for refurbished tech, according to Sam Vesey, the firm’s chief sustainability officer. She said people are now willing to buy second-hand tech, in the same way as second-hand cars and houses. The company refurbishes around 400,000 tech items each year, while UK Gym Equipment sells refurbished commercial exercise machines, with its owner, Matt Gale, saying that they are often still in the market 15 to 20 years after manufacture.

As UK families face financial uncertainty, more people are turning to buying and selling second-hand tech for Christmas gifts. Music Magpie, which refurbishes all sorts of unwanted electronics, has seen an increase in demand for refurbished tech. The company refurbishes about 400,000 tech items every year. Vodafone has also launched a refurbished phone range, with a two-year warranty on every pay-monthly refurbished phone. However, people remain concerned about buying second-hand tech, with worries about limited battery life, device longevity and data security. Experts suggest that buying and selling old tech is a sustainable solution to the problem of e-waste, which is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream, and helps to fund Christmas during these tough times.

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