How to Shop New as a Minimalist
For some minimalists, buying brand-new items sometimes comes with varying intensities of guilty feelings. Feelings of guilt might come from the standpoint of "I shouldn't buy more things... I'm a minimalist now!" or from ecological or economical concerns such as, "But I could have bought it secondhand and kept something old out of the landfill!" or "I saw something similar for half the price in the local swap group." I'm here to tell you that it's okay to buy things new, and that you should feel no guilt to buy something in brand new condition.
I do love secondhand shopping when it comes to things that I want (but don't need) or think they might be nice to have. There are some situations, though, where buying new is perfectly fine, if not outright the better thing to do versus buying used.
Trust your gut when it comes to buying brand new items if...
...they spark joy! Strong gut feelings should generally be trusted. If something makes you happy to look at it or interact with it, don't feel any guilt about buying it brand new. If you think the excitement will fade, sleep on the feeling and see if it passes.
...you have regrets about passing it up in the past. Following my point above, I think that no life
should be lived with regrets. If something that's brand new has been
haunting you because deep down you really want it, don't accept the
regret. Just buy the new thing already and love it.
...it's a soft furnishing. I used to volunteer at my mother-in-law's upscale secondhand store that got its inventory by cleaning out estates. It was an unspoken rule to throw out any pillows and bedding just in case there were bed bugs, lice, fleas, or other creepy-crawlies lurking beneath the surface.
...it's a "buy for life" item. Anything that you intend to buy for life is worth buying brand new, especially if it's exactly what you want and you don't have to make any compromises. "Buy for life" items might be anything from a high-quality winter coat or wool sweater to furniture made from real wood or other natural materials. If there is a particular item you want to only have to buy once, buy it new so it won't have anyone else's lifetime of wear on it already.
...it's something you can't find secondhand. In my particular area, finding secondhand clothes that are made well is very rare because most of the local shopping happens at mega-stores with cheap junk. For me, it saves a lot of time to buy high-quality, sustainably- and ethically-made clothes brand new online. As a bonus, I can be sure I'm getting exactly what I was looking for. This doesn't stop just at clothes. I like to frame weird art I find that usually comes in nonstandard sizes, so it's hard to find frames for everything secondhand. When something can't be found at a nearby secondhand shop, there should be no guilt in buying it brand new--at least you put forth the effort to find it used first!
Of course, you can make up your own rules about what to buy new, and what to buy secondhand (but please, please, PLEASE make a hard pass on the thrift store pillows). One thing you shouldn't do, though, is let guilty feelings dissuade you from buying something brand new when you know it will make you happy. You can still buy things, new or used, and be a minimalist. You'll know when buying something brand new is the right move.