Denim jacket: $2! (It was half price denim day). Brand new swimming costume: $6. Pumpkin Patch knicker bockers: $4 (Does anyone even use that word anymore? Showing my age!) Pink Marquise tee: $3. Paul Frank tee: $3. High five! My two-and-a-half year old will have no idea she's wearing pre-loved threads, I saved some serious cash, I'm doing my little bit for the environment by keeping perfectly good quality items out of landfill AND by shopping at a Brotherhood store, our family is helping the organisation fund its programs, services and advocacy which help disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians at risk of falling into poverty. It's as close as I'm ever going to get to guilt-free retail therapy!
This year, the Brotherhood is a supporting partner of Buy Nothing New Month - a campaign that asks participants to buy nothing new for the month of October. Sound impossible? Not at all! You see, it's OK to buy food, drink, medical and hygiene products brand new, but you just have to look for alternatives when it comes to the rest of your household purchases. By pledging to take part (which you can do at their website), you are vowing to buy second-hand items, repair the ones that need fixing, or go without for the entire month.
It's a chance for us all to jump off the over-consumption treadmill, and really have a think about the "stuff" we fill our lives with - to stop and ponder why we're really buying something, and whether we actually need it. It forces us to consider alternative products that are more sustainable, both for our budget and our planet. You're bound to find that by forgoing making unnecessary, "reflex" purchases in October, it will free up time and money for the important stuff - hanging out with friends and family and conserving your cash so you can save the pennies for something you truly want! (C'mon, admit it - is there stuff that you buy not for yourself, but to impress other people?!)
Buy Nothing New Month is the brainchild of the talented and delightful Tamara di Mattina, who launched the first, rip-roaringly successful incarnation of the movement in 2010. It's her "baby" and she's super passionate and knowledgeable about it. So it seems are many others - Buy Nothing New is even converting devotees in places as far flung as Portugal and the States.
The equally fabulous Natalie from the Brotherhood's Social Enterprises division is loving working with the Buy Nothing New team to help spread the word about the Brotherhood's 24 community stores (why not see if there's one near you) and its online second-hand bookshop, Brotherhood Books. "Second-hand outlets aren't the musty, mothball-ridden dens many people assume they are!" says Nat. "At the Brotherhood stores, you can find a great range of second hand clothing, as well as furniture, electrical goods, Phoenix Fridges and bric a brac, and in selected stores we also stock Green PC’s and Dreamsafe Mattresses - all at unbelievably good prices and in top condition. When people know their generosity is helping a good cause, they're happy to donate fantastic goods that still have plenty of life in them. That's why shopping at our stores is so rewarding."
Recently, my lovely sister got into the swing of Buy Nothing New Month early, with her sustainable country wedding held late this month. (She was interviewed for Woman's Day about her big day in an article which will appear soon). Here she is in a frock made entirely of recycled doilies, with her husband looking dapper in a suit from the local op shop.
And here's the bikes he rescued from the tip and refurbished, which were the getaway wheels on which they pedalled to their accommodation after the reception.
So as this very elegant yet budget-friendly occasion proved without doubt, buying second-hand, reusing, recycling, repairing and "swishing" (google it!) needn't mean going without. It just means being smarter and thriftier about how you spend your hard-earned.
My house also kicked off our own conservation crusade a little early, albeit in far less glamorous fashion. This week, our coffee machine finally gave up the ghost. The OLD us would have replaced it. The NEW us carted it off to a service centre! Hurrah!
If this all sounds appealing to you, but you're still a little unsure, take a peek at this great story which ran recently on Channel Ten's 6.30 with George Negus (featuring the Brotherhood's Michelle Barrett) or this article in the Maroondah Weekly, and maybe you'll be completely sold on the idea!
Go on! Join me and the thousands of others around Australia who'll be buying nothing new and staving off affluenza this October. Here's where to find Buy Nothing New Month on Facebook and Twitter. Happy second-hand shopping!
Peta Levett from Communications at the Brotherhood