Once upon a time I was frustrated. My friends told me they wouldn’t be seen dead buying clothes from the local opportunity store. And now, as a minimalist, I am using this fortnight’s blog space to send out a message: start borrowing and buying second hand!
Second hand purchases prevent clothing entering landfills, the overproduction of unsustainable fashion, inevitably supports more needy communities( through these charity not-for profit shops), and can save YOU hundreds of dollars. How about that for a bargain? ;)
“There is a stigma against secondhand consumption because it involves change”. A quote I heard during the Conference of Youth in Bonn last year captures the resistance to change in our western society. Change requires emotional commitment -- you have to care enough and stay mindful for a habit in thinking and behaviour to set in. In a consumerist society our habits of shopping for whatever we need, buying the newest latest fashion in clothes or gadgets can be changed by taking the time to consider what you care about most -- the planet? do you care enough?
Shopping for me, used to be a pastime and opportunity to catch up with friends. Now a minimalist, I find socialising to be far more rewarding when seated at a nice cafe, in my house, or walking in the park. I’m not pressured to buy things and am living my true self aligning with my minimalist and zero-waste values -- when I return to Melbourne each Green School holidays volunteering , reading, working etc are all welcome alternatives to what I feel is over-consumption ( shopping as entertainment) harming our natural world.
The simple phrase: “can I borrow that?”, is considered by most as, frankly, off-putting. You are handing over responsibility for your treasured possession to another, who will inevitably undervalue it - sometimes damage or lose it! Borrowing: It’s a real trust exercise, and those willing to lend their valued possessions to someone else deserve some serious applaud!
But the act of borrowing can be one full of fun, friendship, and creativity. Not only is it a way to bond with others, but we are limiting our carbon footprint by moving away from what I call ‘object attachment syndrome'.
In a world of purchasing ‘wants’, participating in retail therapy for the fun of it (described in pic below), and keeping up with technology’s newest additions we seem to have become addicted to consumption and ‘object attachment’.
A middle class family in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, for example, quite stereotypically send their children to prestigious private schools, ‘invest’ in the white four-wheel drive BMW with white leather seats, and purchase the expensive designer lounge chairs in the furniture store to fill up the empty 3 lounge rooms in their 4 storey “million dollar” homes. With the pressure of buying expensive products once your salary hits the mark, the economic value of products begin to reflect an individual’s ‘status’. On the other hand, Op-shopping and sharing clothing eliminates the potential message of status.
Honestly, we need to trash the redundant and dated idea that secondhand shopping is not a great option, and replace it with a passion for reuse/recycle. Find your local op-shops to shop in, tell others what fun it can be, and then the world may be a little more colourful and community-like.
My strong personal advice for all those brand-thirsty consumers out there:
Instead of buying the expensive formal dress you’ll wear once, borrow one from a friend- Maybe there’s an even cheaper one in the opportunity store down the road. And, guess what? Your consumer actions will contribute to a better world.