Op Shopping- a love letter.
Five reasons why Second hand shopping is the best.
Op shopping, oh op shopping, how I do love thee, let me count the ways. And by Op shopping I also mean charity shopping, flea markets, rotary auctions, gumtree, garage sales, and my personal favourite, a good old roadside scavenge during council clean up!
I can count on my fingers all of the new items I have bought in the last two years. I made a conscious decision that I didn't want to mindlessly consume any more, initially as a a pay it forward for all the landfill I have created from working in the fashion industry. It started with clothes and books and then when we moved to a bigger place it became furniture, and now it's pretty much everything.
I recently felt dismayed when I was chatting to an acquaintance who was excited about ANOTHER Kmart opening in our town. She was telling me how she doesn't even try stuff on cos it's so cheap that she chucks it out if she doesn't fit, and if the homewares fell apart it wasn't a problem because they always have new ranges coming in and she could just replace it with something else cheaply.
As my mouth fell open in disbelief I realised I shouldn't judge, I used to be part of that system of Cheaper! Newness! Stock Rotation! But I then maybe then got on my soapbox a bit... and it got a bit awkies.. So I thought I would get it all off my chest and list all the reasons why I think second hand is best here. Brace yourself.
I don't know about you, but I like to spend any cash I have on experiences, not stuff. But being a natural hoarder and packrat I still want stuff... so a good op shopping habit means I can have my proverbial cake (or figurine) and eat it too (figuratively).
It also means, as much as I love the stuff I collect, and there are certain things I am incredibly sentimental about and would never let go. I am less attached to my stuff and if I wanted to go on a round the world trip I would happily have a huge garage sale and donate any leftovers to charity tomorrow. You can always accumulate more stuff if you want. If you buy expensive new things, especially on finance then they are a real burden and will only hold you down, and expensive does not mean good quality. If you buy cheap things they will invariably fall apart... so it makes sense to buy second hand.
The Nostalgia Factor
I collect a lot of crafts and handmade things, I just can't resist. I really admire the work and time that someone put into them, and I love the uniqueness of the handmade. I always wonder why the things ended up all forlorn and lonely and I want to take them home and cherish them. It's hard to explain, but you do just know when something reaches out and sparks a happy nostalgic feeling. I definitely have a penchant for anything highly textured, chunky hand painted pottery, basketry, embroidery, mid century modern, macrame and anything in a faded brown and orange colour scheme which evokes all of the photo albums of my childhood.
Second Hand is *often Better Quality
If you are smart you can find beautiful high quality pieces with amazing craftsmanship, unlike a lot of the cheap mass produced goods available new. You just might need to fix it up a little, or just give it a bit of spit and polish. A bit of imperfection is lovely anyway, it means it's been well loved.
There is a reason why the singer sewing machine I inherited from my Granny still stitches like a dream, and the old technics stereo my boyfriend got from his parents in the late eighties still has the best sound, but the smart phone I got six months ago is already on the blink... things really did use to be built to last. One of the first things you learn in any design discipline is about built in obsolescence, if you design things to last forever, you can't sell people as many things.
And yes, second hand isn't perfect and you can sometimes end up with a dud, but hopefully it's just a $5 dud!
Which brings me to:
Good For The Planet
Ugh, whenever I hear the statistics about how much stuff ends up in landfill I want to cry. Most textiles and plastic do not biodegrade. Theres a huge problem with obsolete electronics, and the exploitation of people in third world countries who are having to deal with processing the stuff we dump on them.
One of the major problems charities face is having to process all of the cheap falling apart crap that people donate, it's actually costing charities millions. And one of my pet peeves is going op shopping and being confronted by racks and racks of trash fashion often still with tags- I wish people would just do a bit less impulse buying!
I haven't even mentioned factory pollution to air, waterways and soil, the birth defects caused by toxic pesticides on GMO cotton, wastage, forest clearing and on and on... but I'm not gonna be that guy and subject you tn a thesis on the matter here... but all the info is out there if you want to research!
The Thrill of the Chase
You never know what you will find, and it's so fun to stumble across a hidden treasure in a dusty corner. There is something so satisfying with finding that perfect cane armchair, then the perfect fabric to cover the cushions with, and then a divine wicker plant stand that matches it perfectly... know your taste, create vignettes and collect things that complement each other.
I could keep going forever, but I think you get my gist. If everyone just educates themselves a little bit and chooses to consume less and buy smarter it can make a difference and you will also save money and feel smug, and who doesn't love that?