10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, February 29, 2016

Trash-it and Replace It Culture of USA vs. Fix-it and Keep It Culture of Ecuador

Reader asks: I have read that there are no second hand stores or yard sales in Cuenca. What does one do when replacing items? Are they tossed or donated?

Frank and Angie's Response: This is a good question and we wondered the very same thing when we first moved here. In general, we north Americans come from a throw-away kind of society where when something breaks or becomes too used up we simply replace it with a new one but here that is not the case at all.

The Ecuadorians do one of two things when something needs replaced: 1. They fix it, mend it, restore it, or repair it and then give it to someone else in the family to enjoy, whether it’s a piece of furniture or an appliance…or 2. They fix it, mend it, or repair it and keep it!

Ecuador’s culture is a very resourceful one where they find ways to continue using what they have; if something can’t be fixed they will use the parts from it to create or build something else with those parts. We find it rather industrious to say the least.

We have thrown out numerous broken items in the last five years from 2 electric heaters, kitchen electric grill, a fan, numerous broken small kitchen gadgets, broken lamps, and three office chairs that just broke in half because they were made of cheap plastic, etc. 
3rd broken office chair in five years! LOL
We put this chair outside by the gate and it was gone within minutes
Be careful buying things in Ecuador, off brands are no good and will break.

We put our broken stuff outside the gate for the garbage men to haul away and before you know it someone comes by and takes what he or she wants. This is why there are no thrift stores in Ecuador to speak of. They do have many used clothing and shoe stores however, but you will not find anything else, just clothes.

As for the expats that come here and then leave, they sell their stuff on the gringo portals to newcomers to Cuenca and that works out great because many folks do come here without anything but their suitcases and they have to buy furniture and appliances and more to setup house. 

When expats leave, for one reason or another sometimes they have a garage sell to get rid of all the stuff they bought. Now-a-days you can find just about everything you need to set up house; most things are only lightly used. It’s much less expensive than buying everything new. 

You will also find that now that there are more gringos needing stuff, the Ecuadorians also sell their things on the gringo portals, if they speak English and if they don’t speak English, they sell their items on Mercado Libre, an online sellers and buyers outlet for Ecuador.

Until we write again, you might like to read these articles.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Frank & Angie

    OLX is another good source for used items in Ecuador...it worked well to find a used van, but they have all different item categories...as well as real estate.


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