The Year of Nothing New

shopping

I’ve never been especially acquisitive or materialistic.  Even as a child I would draw, paint, read, make things out of cardboard and play games rather than buy whatever was the latest craze. As an adult, I’ve espoused the same values, so you would expect my home to be minimalist.  No.  It is burgeoning at the seams with ‘stuff’.

A combination of wanting to de-clutter, and not wanting to contribute, any more than is necessary, to the consumption of the world’s precious and decreasing resources, has led me to this decision: one year, nothing new.

There are caveats.  I’m getting married in June, and whilst it won’t be a hedonistic spend-fest  (most things are being made or borrowed) it is beyond my capabilities to organise an entire wedding without buying anything new. I’ve saved myself the stress and taken the easy option –the wedding is excluded.  Think of me what you will.

I have plenty of old and second hand goods in my home.  In over 35 years of independent living, it is only in the last 12 months that I’ve purchased a new dining set – in a sale last January – for practical reasons.  I feel no guilt for my lovely ethically sourced wooden dining chairs and table.

If you think with such a solid starting point the next 12 months will be easy, you’d be wrong!  For a start I’m an avid reader, and therefore book buyer. I’ve more or less exhausted my local library and their supply of new books is limited.  Sorry author friends, your sequels and new works will not be on my buying list this year – and it grieves me greatly.  Depending on how this year pans out, I may allow myself a limited number of book purchases next year, but first I need to curb my book buying habit!

Shoes are another problem area for me. I’m no Imelda Marcos, but I do have a minor shoe obsession, which is ironic considering I have to wear orthotics and am unable to wear heels or slip-ons!  Second hand shoes are not an option for me. In practice this means that if I see a pair of shoes I like – and can wear – I generally buy them under the guise of ‘practicality’.  This is really a thinly veiled shoe fetish.  So, this year, no new shoes (thankfully I already have my wedding shoes!)

My self-imposed moratorium will not change the world, but I’m hoping it will change me; give me enough space to examine what I buy and why, and whether there are alternatives to the things I do need to buy.

The majority of the things I do own are researched, and bought to last.  Sadly few products are made to be repaired these days, but I’m fortunate to have a fiancé who is happy to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into fixing most things.  The Swedish Government have drawn up plans that will see VAT reduced on repairs, and a new tax break introduced for the people who conduct more expensive repairs on items such as washing machines and dishwashers.  This is a direction I hope we can all head in rather than perpetuate such a disposable society.  This also necessitates building quality products that last and can be repaired, rather than having a built in redundancy.

With burgeoning amounts of waste and increasing possibilities for recycling, we also need to look seriously at using recycled materials in preference to virgin resources, and as consumers being prepared to buy recycled goods.  Legislation is sorely needed.  Our friends the Swedes are also beginning to tackle this, by introducing a “chemicals tax” on white goods and computers, which is designed to recoup costs for items that are difficult to recycle.  Until our Governments catch up, we as consumers need to be the vanguard.

I’m looking forward to the challenge of the next 12 months and hope that you will share my journey with me as I blog about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Independent Article on Swedish Government repairs legislation

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-repairs-tax-waste-reduction-plan-a7318131.html

 

 

Second-Hand-Jane

It has a dowdy second best ring to it, doesn’t it? When I was younger – much younger – it really was ruinous to street credibility to admit you’d crossed the threshold of an Oxfam shop, never mind done any shopping in one! When I was in my ‘black phase’ I found a very nice trilby and waistcoat in my local Oxfam shop that became part of my look for ages!

Today I have, and wear, apparel that is 30 years old, and am proud to shout it. I’m lucky, I’ve barely changed size in all that time – a genetic and metabolic quirk rather than a boast – and can get away with it. As fashions come and go I plod along mixing and matching dubious styles from the eighties with more recent acquisitions.

I was delighted to find recently a colleague with similar trending notions. On admiring a bold orange print top, I was told it was a dress from the 60’s which had been modified. Go Clare! Unfortunately I don’t have the requisite skills to re-model dresses, but I’m pleased to say there are an increasing number of people out there who do. Oxfam now have their own Vintage brand, breathing new life into faded denim and vintage lace.

Indeed, ‘vintage’ and ‘shabby chic’ whilst not quite de rigueur, have acquired a far more desirable image than the ubiquitous ‘second-hand’ clothes. It’s great seeing the ‘ reduce, reuse, recycle’ theme applied to something both more basic and desirable than recycled glass bottles that no one quite knows know what to do with. All power to the new breed of eco-warriors and second-hand-Jane’s – those old style thrifties like me.

Antiques, paintings, houses, classic cars, they all increase their worth with the patina of age, and it’s certainly time that fashion came of age and was more a matter for individuals and less a product of the high-street factory.

The outdoor brand Patagonia are reclaiming and reusing old polar fleece, and local people like Rag Tag and Textiles and Highland Fairy are up-cycling out of vogue clothes into original creations. Making your mark with your own style may be easier than you think and certainly has a huge impact on global resources and the people who have little choice about what clothes they wear.

Photo credit https://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2000