A blog that I read regularly - Ivy Nest - gave a link to this article on craft consumerism on Friday night.
It fitted in nicely with some musings I have had recently on my own op-shopping experience, aka thrifting. Actually, as a side note, when did it get a name change? In Australia it was called op-shopping in my youth - which is actually, at 27, not in that distant a past. Perhaps it is further evidence of globalisation.
Thrifting seems to have undergone a major facelift in recent years. I don't know if it is the power of the internet which makes it appear very popular or if, in the face of the financial crises, it has actually grown in popularity. One thing is clear, though, shopping for goods secondhand is very 'now'.
|Ok, so this is actually one of my more useful finds, some small modern cloth nappies - we own a one-size-fits-all model and they don't actually fit a small baby.|
But, I wonder if this nascent trend is very meaningful. Surely when criticism is leveled at people for shopping as recreation it is just as valid if they shop for new goods or old. To me, it seems that the issue at stake is the motivation behind the shopping - the need to compulsively acquire. After all, a secondhand piece of tat is still tat if you don't actually need it or really want it - it is just a more affordable piece of tat than something bought new; and its 'consumption' (good economist word there) has theoretically less of an environmental impact.
There are certain blogs out there where people show and tell each week of their op-shop or yard sale finds. Fine, this is a fun thing to do and certainly provides encouragement that the elusive item you are after can be found if you have sufficient persistence and luck. However, I grow uneasy when I see the same person week after week posts their finds which seem - at least on the surface of it - to be purchases for the sake of it. I mean, I like quirky retro kitchenware as much as the next person, but how many coffee cups and plates can one household reasonably use?
|Honestly, haven't I actually heard of a library?|
In recent weeks, I have found a compulsion on my own behalf to frequent op-shops in our area. After some luck finding some lovely clothes for Ginger and a pyrex storage bowl, I felt like I was on a roll. Rather than just popping into an op shop for a poke after completing other jobs in town, Ginger and I took a couple of mornings op-shopping. We fitted as many in as I could before Ginger had a meltdown and we had to go home. And, I bought items that were not in the greatest condition and were certainly not needed. In fact, one pyrex bowl ended up in the bin upon my return home because it had a crack in it I hadn't seen at the shop.
Now, please don't think I am in anyway casting aspersions on people who op-shop regularly - the nature of the beast means you do have to visit frequently if you are going to find goods you need. But rather, my own uneasiness comes from the fact that we don't actually need anything at the moment - well, a new coffee plunger would be useful to DH after the last one was Gingered - and these excursions were about the experience and, for me, the siren call of the 'what if'.
I think I knew deep down that op-shopping was becoming a less healthy practice for me when I began to stress about the number of children's books
we I had acquired recently, and had a re-read of my blog and realised that just about every second post was about something I had found op-shopping. But, it was not until we were discussing budgets and DH made the point that all my 'little' op-shop spends - $3 here, $5 there actually added to something quite substantial, that it really hit home.
DH and I have come to the conclusion that I need a little op-shopping budget. After all, I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt and we have acquired some useful and beautiful possessions this way. But, I am going to keep a list of items I am on the look out for. For instance, at the moment that would be - a coffee plunger, a table lamp, wicker baskets, the Brambley Hedge "Spring" book, pyrex food storage containers, and glass storage jars. Anything else, I seriously need to weigh up the need versus want angle; and perhaps throw in a bit of William Morris -"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".
P.S.: I hope I haven't offended anyone in this post. It really isn't meant to, it is just where my thoughts are at at the moment and it is about my own journey with simplified and grateful living.