Friday, June 6, 2008

nothing new under the sun

In contrast to yesterday's post, today's topic is something I think has gone pretty well. I was inspired by my friend Thia, who abstained from buying new things for some period of time (how long it was, I can't remember any more) and I thought, I should do that too.

So I did.

I decided to only get clothes for myself secondhand. Thrift stores, consignment shops, whatever. And I was surprised to discover that because we live in an area of ridiculously wealthy people (compared to the rest of the world, I'll even include us) it's pretty easy to find very nice clothes secondhand. And I ususally I just do thrift stores, and still find nicer clothes then I'd spend money on in regular stores. I've also gotten bags, toys for Lucy, clothes for Lucy, household items, and a bunch of books. People give this stuff away.

Shopping secondhand has really changed the way I look at shopping in general. I wait a long time before buying something new. I look around. I got Lucy a trike a while ago, (new), and have seen several used since then. So when I decided to get her a baby stroller, I waited. FOr like a month. But found one used. Which means that I'm not adding to the great machine of consumption that is our economy these days. And I'm supporting either a small mom-and-pop shop (the consignment stores) or a charity (even better).
Now I think before I buy. I think a lot. If it isn't food or toilet paper, chances are you can get it used. And why not?
Last Christmas, Dyami and I did a thrift store Christmas for each other--all our gifts came used. I think it was a mixed success--it didn't quite have the shine and polish of new-store shopping. And it was weird not having as much choice. However, we still use most of the things we purchase. We're still deciding whether or not to repeat it next Christmas. But what I did like, whole-heartedly, was that the stuff that we didn't use just went back to the thrift store, to be repurposed. We didn't waste a bunch of money--the money we spent went to a good cause, at least.
I don't see ending my fast from "new" shopping ending anytime soon. Well, that's not entirely true. I buy new sometimes. Like for underwear.
But what stuff I do buy new, I'm more motivated to think about, to buy more sustainably, and to spend money on quality, or greeness, or sustainability. Why not, when I don't shell out much cash for purchases anyway?
I have noted, though, that even secondhand shopping can become a way of escape, a way of entertaining myself. Which I don't like. So I try to limit trips to the thrift for when I actually need something.
There you go. Go local, go used. Go thrifty.

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