This post has been written in celebration of “Buy Nothing New Month”
Letting go is a big part of the house sitting lifestyle. Habits, routines even long standing patterns can be released at the end of each sitting. I take the opportunity when I’m organising what to pack, to recycle things, usually clothing, which I don’t need to take with me to the next new place. Sometimes, this coincides with a seasonal change, giving me good reason for a big (in my terms when you consider I only have one suitcase) clear out.
A lifetime ago, I thought nothing of going to the mall on a Saturday morning and spending $500 on a new dress. Did this make me happy or happier? Not really as I was unhappy in my then relationship and seeking solace in retail therapy, which never really heals the pain if that is your motivation.Since then I have undergone quite a transformation in my values and now love to experiment with a change of persona made possible through the op-shopping (opportunity or charity shop) experience.
Some people have it; that op-shop eye. Two of my friends, Lorna and Robbie, have got it. Its that ability to see possibilities in recycled goods. You could say its an inventive or creative skill, when you walk into a recycled store, be it a hipster’s vintage paradise in Melbourne or modest charity store in the country, and tell at a glance what clothing or other goods have the potential to give you what you are looking for. In the presence of my friends I can feel the urge to look at things-and myself in a new way. That colourful Italian jumper I normally wouldn’t be seen dead in suddenly gives me
Some people are put off from op-shopping by the idea that you may be wearing dead people’s clothing or that it denotes poverty, but the opposite is true. For one, new things do not really denote greater ownership by you. They were made by machines or people working them and who knows what their working conditions were? Many discount chain stores who sell goods at cheap prices do so because of the appalling pay and conditions in these offshore factories. Consumers are becoming more aware of this nefarious relationship and looking for other options. And don’t think that price denotes quality or respect for the workers who made the products. I’ve bought designer clothing brands in upmarket boutiques and stores only to discover that they were made in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Op-shopping is about abundance not poverty.Think of the cornucopia of colours, textures and designs you will find when you visit your local shop. Then of course there’s the bargain hunting that goes along with the whole process. A good friend of mine, op-shopper extraordinaire who comes from a wealthy family, is constantly astounding her sisters and brothers when she reveals just where she got that vibrant green 100% merino wool coat and other treasures.
Variations on the traditional form of recycling are springing up with great creativity; take Freecycle for example where no money need pass hands and Oxfam’s Schwopping
Donating and purchasing recycled goods has other obvious benefits too. When you consider you are giving a new lease of life to clothing and goods which would otherwise end up as landfill, you can feel even better about your new acquisitions and funky new persona.
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