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 Fashion moves so fast that clothes are considered out of date within months and the rapid turnover and desire for ever cheaper fashion has driven manufacturers towards the lowest cost materials and labour.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?
Over the years I've acquired some of my favourite wardrobe pieces from non-new sources such as:
- Vintage clothing from places like the Love Vintage fair, The Way We Wear fair, Circa Vintage and countless others.
- Second-hand stores like Salvos, Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Savers and countless others
- Second-hand online traders like eBay, Etsy, and Gumtree
- Clothes swaps, either just with friends or organised swaps like National Swap Day
- Making my own clothes
- Refashioning/altering clothing that was originally bought new to give it a new life
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?