Conscious Christmas Consumption: eBay or Depop?

Which site is better for sustainable, secondhand holiday shopping?
December 14, 2019
6 mins read

We’re weeks into holiday season, and you’re going to buy things on the internet. Amazon is the unethical choice for blenders and air pods. Etsy’s good for heartfelt and artsy gifts with monthlong deliveries, but that’s time you don’t have. Then, there are the dozens of sweatshop discount vendors like Asos. Fast fashion is one of the easiest Black Friday or holiday favorites, but it’s wasteful, environmentally irresponsible and often unethical. Luckily, as we become less mobile and more interested in the clothing of previous decades, thrifting and consignment are trending. When the best gift option is probably clothing, the best platform is probably Depop — or eBay.

You don’t have much time, so what’s Depop? It once clogged your Instagram feed, and you may have made an account but never verified your email address. If you made it further than that, you probably found out that it’s pretty cool, like a younger eBay for trading Urban Outfitters and resale clothes.

But how does it compare to the “real” eBay? It depends on what you’re looking for and whether or not you’re a member of Generation Z. If you’re looking for a mid-range, popular clothing item and want to feel like you’re on Instagram, then Depop is for you. If you’d rather shop for a rare sneaker, a joke shirt or discounted luxury, then eBay is the way to go.

It’s time to consider the pros and cons. Assuming you’re looking for clothes, both sites have a lot to offer. Whether you’re shopping high-end resale or low-priced clothing, eBay has a lot more diversity (not to mention the millions of non-clothing items it has to offer). If you want a less overwhelming shopping experience or you’re going for a certain “look,” Depop is centered more around aesthetics and personalized profile. On top of that, it has a surprising community feel. The messaging system allows for better customer service and the app makes for easy and free listing.

At this point in the month you only have one shot. As far as reliability both sites have a fair amount of fake advertisements and scammers, but this seems to be inescapable in the world of online resale. On eBay, these listings usually look shady and are easy to spot, but on Depop, the situation is a bit harder to read.

To make things more confusing, Depop does not require you to transfer a payment through the website, but to avoid scams, you must ALWAYS buy and sell only on the site. On eBay on the other hand, you’ll find a lot of inexpensive clothing items sold in bulk. Avoid these! If it costs less than $3 and has an inventory in the hundreds, it’s probably made by children.

Statistically, eBay has undeniably more to offer but more to sift through. It has massive amounts of traffic, especially internationally. The buyers and seller tend to be more serious than on Depop, which means you’re more likely to get consistent deliveries from an established seller rather than a poorly planned clothing swap. On the newer site, you have to be knowledgeable on current trends surrounding the streetwear, hipster, vintage aesthetic — nothing too high-end or ratty.

Depop is best for mid-range, popular items. While more diverse, a downside of eBay is that it tends to benefit buyers slightly more than sellers, who cannot leave feedback, and eventually end up paying sale fees. Listings and apps in general are much more complex but allow for more efficient searches on the buyer side and easier selling, especially once you learn how to use listings to your advantage.

To keep things simple, both platforms are top picks at this time of year. While eBay’s been cultivating its platform since 1995, Depop has been booming lately, and there’s no telling what it might become. The OG site has arguably more to offer overall, but Depop is better by far if you’re looking for a specific trendy aesthetic.

Regardless of whether you shop online, the internet helps you become a better consumer. You may be sighing right now, but hear me out. It doesn’t take much longer than checking your Instagram to learn about sustainability, ethical fashion and conscious consumption. If you’re throwing cash at the internet this year, buy resale instead of something made in a sweatshop. If you’re looking for clothing, both eBay and Depop can be solutions to the problem, and if they don’t work out, try eBay again.

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