I was flicking through Peppermint the other day. I like this magazine - it has a nice aesthetic and pays its respects to craftspeople. There is a fair bit of advertising but not the glossy-in-your-face kind. Rather, it promotes ecologically sound practitioners and products . I don't always buy it but I am glad I got the Spring edition last week. Inside, among all the yummy sounding beauty products and makers of all kinds, I came across a little note about Buy Nothing New Month.I dutifully headed off to the dub dub dub addie and read about this campaign. The general idea is that by getting people to pledge to not purchasing unnecessary new goods for one month, awareness about over-consumption and what it means for our planet will be raised , as well as perhaps changing a few habits. I'm all for it. Actually, they are preaching to the converted here but I think it is a great idea.
To be honest when I want something for my home or wardrobe, I generally look in the thrift store first. My kids are well-trained op-shoppers too. The girls treat it as a recreational sport and whilst my son doesn't seek it out as actively, he is more than happy to have second-hand in his life - like the suede leather jacket he found in a local oppie whilst accompanying his sister. Or the double bed sized Superman duvet cover I found for him when he moved out of home earlier this year ( he may not appreciate me telling you about that!). The girls have really honed their op-shopping skills as students when they have had little money to spare. We furnished their flats with second -hand furniture. yadda yadda yadda. The beaut thing is though that post-Uni and a job did not stop Number 1 from ardent op-shopping. (Number 2 daughter is still studying and op shopping ).
It isn't just about saving money though. It is about thinking more creatively about what we use and consume. We throw away such a lot of stuff in this country and that can be wasteful and have big impacts on our environment. Can it be mended, re-used for a different purpose or up-cycled? My choice to use reclaimed materials in my jewellery is not an accident - it really is a purposeful choice based on my personal beliefs. A number of years ago I was showing a fine jewellery artist/lecturer who admire greatly, a pendant I had made that incorporated a drink can base. They really liked it but suggested I could have the can shape cast in silver so I could charge more for it. That was a real 'ah-ha' moment for me. I realised several important things. Firstly, the whole point of the damn thing was that it was made from a post-consumer reclaimed/recycled material. Secondly, they had missed the point but liked the aesthetic so maybe other people would get the point and the aesthetic. Thirdly, it might be a bit of a battle to get people to do that but it was really important to me that I used those kind of materials. I have stuck with my conviction and without doubt have seen an increase in both people who do get the point - practitioners and clients alike. yay!
Schezerade, Sue Garrard,2012, recycled and reclaimed materials
The other issue close to my heart is the crazy cheapness of so many goods in our big chain stores. Six bucks for a t shirt? How is that even possible? What sort of conditions is the person responsible for stitching that together working in? Okay so I am not going to bang on about the deplorable conditions of factory workers in other countries and I promise that the BNNM website is not choc-a-bloc full of guilt inducing statistics either. It is fun and interesting. Head over there and have a squizz. Maybe take the pledge?