Ikea’s recently announced “Buy Back & Resell” program for its “gently used” home goods sounds like a dream for college students ready to pivot to full-time careers (and sturdier furniture). But it also marks the Swedish company as the latest to join a business movement championing more eco-friendly practices. With the threat of climate change looming larger than ever and many studies pointing to growing concern among younger people about the environment, businesses choosing to adopt greener practices can not only help the planet, but boost their reputation in the eyes of consumers.
“Sustainability has become a major focus for IKEA, and this is part of that push. They want to be change leaders in the marketplace,” Dr. Manveer Mann, associate professor of marketing at Montclair State University, told Yahoo Finance. “The pandemic has changed people’s perception. They want to shop with brands that have a mission and contribute to society. Customers are spending more on experiences rather than things. Objects don’t have to be new, they can be used and still bring joy.”
Wondering how you can be a part of it? Start out by bringing items you don’t need to the following retailers.
Clothing trade-in programs
In 2012, clothing retailer H&M announced its Garment Collection program, which encourages shoppers to participate in garment recycling by bringing a bag of old clothing to participating retail locations. Customers earn a 15% discount on future purchases in return. While the retailer says the program helps build a sustainable future, the company has also earned criticism for being a major player in the fast fashion business in the first place, which some say clashes with its green ambitions.
The North Face
The North Face’s “Clothes the Loop” program welcomes trades both online and at its retail locations. It also accepts any brand, not just its own. Your items earn you a $10 certificate to be used on future North Face purchases of $100 or more. All the clothing donated goes to nonprofit Soles4Souls, which works to distribute them to the homeless and others in need.
Levi’s (LEVI) SecondHand trade-in program encourages customers to drop off their used Levi’s jeans and jackets at U.S. retail stores, which are then sent to be cleaned and sold on Levi’s SecondHand website. Levi’s says on its website: “data shows that purchasing a pair of used Levi's® jeans instead of new ones saves 80% of the carbon footprint and diverts 700g of waste.” Customers looking to participate in the eco-friendly program also get a bonus: a 20% discount to be used on a future purchase.
Patagonia’s Wornwear program will pay up to $100 in store credit for worn items still in good condition such as coats, fleece, and even baby clothing. It draws the line at what it calls “next-to-skin” garments, so bras, underwear, swimwear, and similar items are a no-go. Hats, gloves, and scarves are also out. But as long as your item still has its care label and is free of holes, it’s good to go. Like Levi’s program, the traded items are sold again at a lower cost, which can reduce the company’s carbon, water, and waste footprint by 30%.
REI will buy back everything from gently used hiking boots to tents and sleeping bags, paying as much as $110 for items in excellent condition. You’ll get your trade credit in the form of an REI gift card. While the service is mostly online, REI’s Manhattan Beach Garage Sale Store does accept trades in person. You can also shop used on REI’s Good & Used site, which means discounts of up to 60% off retail –– not to mention less stuff ending up in landfills.
Electronic trade-in programs
If it’s time for a new iPhone or Macbook, Apple (AAPL) is more than happy to take it off your hands for trade. Apple’s trading program offers some generous credit to use for upgrades (up to $1,400 on Macbook Pros and $540 on iPhone 11 Pro Max). While Apple does not give cash for the traded items, it does offer a gift card you can use on future purchases. And like several of the other companies on this list, it will recycle items it can't accept for trade.
Best Buy’s (BBY) trade-in program accepts a wide variety of tech for trade, including laptops, tablets, phones, and gaming consoles. If the item is too old or nonfunctional, the retailer will recycle up to three items per day per customer at no cost. While the cash amount offered for most items is low compared to their retail cost, Best Buy offers significant discounts for buying a new item made by the same company (for example, trying to sell a Samsung Galaxy S20 resulted in an offer for $600 off a new Samsung phone).
Amazon (AMZN) will accept trade-ins in exchange for a gift card for its used tech items, from Kindles to video games. The mammoth retailer even accepts nonfunctional items, although don’t expect to make a killing on them. If your item is too far gone, Amazon, like Best Buy, will recycle it for free. You can also expect to be rewarded with a little extra if you trade in an Amazon device such as a Kindle, which will earn a 20% off credit towards a new Kindle through Nov. 30.
While most people know you can trade electronics at the aforementioned retailers, not everyone is aware that Target (TGT) offers the service, as well. You can trade phones, tablets, video games, consoles, and more online. The retailer also hosts a yearly event where it accepts child car seats in all conditions for trade. In exchange, customers will get a 20% off coupon to use on a variety of related products such as a new car seat, high chairs, swings, rockers, and bouncers.
Not only is AT&T (T) happy to sell you a phone, but it’s willing to take it back when you’re done with it. The company’s trade-in program boasts up to $700 in savings when you trade an old phone in towards the purchase of a new one. Finding out the worth of your current device is as easy as going here and plugging in your details. Once you know what its value is, AT&T will send you prepaid shipping supplies so you can ship it out at no cost. So those days of going to the store and waiting for an associate to have time to help you are over.
Much like AT&T, Verizon (VZ) also offers a trade-in program that will give you credit for trading in your old phone and upgrading. If you only want to get rid of an older phone but don’t need a new one, you can also get a Verizon gift card or a PayPal credit for it (and you don’t need to be a Verizon account holder to do so, either).