Friday, September 30, 2011

Buy Nothing New Month - October 2011

I've submitted my pledge to Buy Nothing New for the month of October 2011. As you probably have gathered from this blog and my sustainable living blog over at Greening Our Life, not buying new things is a regular part of how I live. However, even though I think I'll find it easy to go without buying anything new for a month, I'm keen to encourage other people to give it go.

What exactly do you mean by Buy Nothing New?
Buy Nothing New month means that for one month (October 2011), with the exception of essentials* (food, drink, medications, hygiene products) you can beg, borrow, barter, swap or buy secondhand whatever you need. You just buy nothing new.
*I'm still out on whether I'd count buying supplies to make/repair things as "new". E.g. buying a new zipper to replace a broken one on a skirt, buying matching thread to fix a seam etc.. As much as possible I'm going to try and use things from my stash.

Why have a Buy Nothing New month?
Buy Nothing New is not about going without, nor is it Buy Nothing New Never.

It’s about taking October to reassess what we really need, think about where the stuff we buy comes from (finite resources), where it goes (landfill), and what our alternatives are.

It is about conscientious consumption and by not spending on stuff we don’t need, increasing our savings for the things we do need.
Pledge to Buy Nothing New during October and challenge over consumption.

One of my biggest complaints about modern society is how much people are obsessed with having "stuff", especially cheap stuff. I cringe every time I go past yet another discount store selling crap mass produced from unsustainable materials using underpaid and undervalued labour.

A large part of my love of vintage clothing is that it came from a time when people valued quality of materials and workmanship. I have several beautiful suit jackets from the late 1940s that are far finer in the quality of the materials (pure worsted wool) and the workmanship. The tailoring is neat and well finished. No sloppy stitching and weak seams. They've lasted far better than anything I've ever bought new from a modern department store, including brands that are supposedly good quality.

Vintage to me also harks back to a time of "make do and mend". Clothes and other items were well cared for so they would last longer and mended when necessary to keep them usable. Modern society is very much a disposable society. Fashion moves so fast that clothes are considered out of date within months and the rapid turnover and desire for ever cheaper fashion has driven manufacturers towards the lowest cost materials and labour. While it may be great for some that they can get jeans for $10 from Kmart, the hidden costs are those born by those who labour in poor conditions, who are made sick from industrial pollution from the materials manufacturing process, and countries that exploit their own people to gain Western investment.

Things to think about
  • How many times have you bought a piece of clothing only to have it languish in the back of the wardrobe unworn? 
  • How many times have you succumbed to buying clothes because they were "such a bargain" only to have them fall to bits within a year? 
  • How many times have you thrown out a piece of clothing because it lost a button, broke a zip, had a stain, or had a seam pop?
I know in my lifetime I've been guilty of all of the above at some point. However, a few years ago I decided to make a conscious effort to put more thought into the clothes I buy. I look for quality rather than the cheapest option. I look for ethically and sustainably produced clothing. I look for locally made clothing. I'm prepared to pay more for better quality materials, good working conditions, and a fair wage for labour. I select clothing with consideration for how much use I will get from it. I am less inclined to buy clothing for a "one off" event. I take care when laundering my clothes to make sure I get longer wear from them. I alter and mend my clothes to keep them in my wardrobe for longer. Any clothes I no longer wear are donated to charity if they are in reasonable condition, or go into my refashion/fabric scraps box to be recycled into other things. Rarely does anything go into the rubbish.

Over the years I've acquired some of my favourite wardrobe pieces from non-new sources such as:
In a city like Melbourne, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to second-hand or vintage clothing sources. Not only is buying second-hand more sustainable, it's also often less expensive which is great for the budget conscious.

As we go through October, I'll be posting what things I've sourced from non-new sources, as well as sharing some of my favourite ways to buy nothing new.

I encourage everyone to give Buy Nothing New month a go. It's just one month. When you go to buy something new, take a moment to pause and think:
  • Do I really need this?
  • Does it need to be new?
  • Is there another option to get this second-hand?

1 comment:

Melbourne Belle said...

I look forward to following your buy nothing new month. Don't forget, many of your friends have a stash of their own. I for one am happy to give/swap sewing notions. As for zips, the strange shop near my office sells reclaimed zips, and Thread Den sells vintage ones still in their packaging. Where there is a will there is a way - and I know you have the will!