This year I have decided, wherever possible, to not buy anything new, and at the end of every month I will be exposing all my purchases here as a kind of confessional.. because if I have to do that, I will certainly be thinking twice before I pop into a big box store.. I am using you shamelessly, dear readers, as my virtual conscience, my interweb Jiminy Crickets.
Why not buy new? In a word, externalities. All of us, my darlings, who can access the intenet on an electronic device, are more or less the 1% of the world's population who benefit unfairly from the sweat, habitat destruction, pollution, ill health, exploitation and death of the 99% whose lives are degraded in some way so that we can have machines to wash our clothes and make our toast, and have access to cheap t-shirts and chocolate.
One day I woke up and the invisible wake of destruction that trails behind my trips to Target suddenly became unbearable, so I have started on a different path to providing for my needs and wants, and those of my lovely children, dog, two cats and two budgies.
Here are my guidelines:
1 Make do with what I have.
2 Try to find what I need second hand - there is a world of stuff out there that needs to be rescued and used again.
3 Buy from a local craftsperson.
4 As a last resort, buy from a local, independent store, so that at least my money stays in my community.
And here is how I fared in February:
Bought new: Two pairs dance shorts for the girls' new dance class. Bought at the local ballet shop. Australian made.
Pair dance shoes for Rosy. Bought at Kmart:( Usually dance shoes are about $80 and only available from the ballet shop. The dance teacher was very chirpy as she informed us that the shoes the girls need this year for their street/jam/funk class are black canvas flats available from Kmart for $10. She thought I would be pleased..
I bought them, of course. And then while we were there Rosy 'needed' a t-shirt and cardigan as well. Which I bought, of course. Because I am not quite ready to get between a teenager and her need to be 'normal'. Well, not all the time. I did buy some second hand clothes for the girls this month, but I think we are going to have to ease into buying absolutely everything second hand for them. Baby steps.
Meanwhile, I felt very, very uneasy in Kmart. I was surrounded by ridiculously cheap footwear, and cheery $9 cardigans. And what made me feel uneasy was that I wanted those cheap and cheery clothes and homewares. It is so easy to buy All the Stuff at Kmart. No wonder there is a thriving decluttering industry. In Kmart you can buy All the Stuff, then you will have to pop back to buy All the Storage Tubs to put All the Stuff in, then when you run out of space completely you will have to pop back to buy some books on decluttering. They really have you all stitched up at Kmart.
Anyway, I scuttled guiltily out, and am more determined than ever to avoid the horrid place completely from now on.
A new filter for my vacuum cleaner. When it lost suction completely, I feared the worst, but it turns out that my vacuum cleaner has TWO filters. I had only ever found one, which I washed occasionally, and which did indeed generally make it work better. The second one is non-washable (of course), but has lasted four years, so hopefully this new one will give me another four years of non-stop good behaviour from my excellent hard-working friend, the vacuum cleaner.
Bought secondhand: Posy talked me into getting a second budgie (offered to us by the grandmother of one of Posy's friends). We bought the cage from a friend whose son's cockatiel had died. The cage was originally green but a while back when I was organising The Man's shed I found a whole shelf full of spray paint, so we used a few cans of satin black to create an elegant boudoir for the birdies..
..who are very chuffed at being able to fly around in their cage now..
Also, during February, we went on a retail adventure to a pre-loved clothes market where we all found something new for our summer wardrobes.
It Followed Me Home Mum, Honest..I have been helping my lovely friend Cindy to pack up her house ready for moving, and inevitably some of Cindy's stuff has found its way into my house - a stack of foodie magazines which I swear I was going to give to a foodie friend, but my girls found them first..
And two lovely cast iron pans which I am hoping will help my iron levels to soar. One of them is a Le Creuset pan, because Cindy only cooks with the best, and I am a very lucky girl. Thanks Cindy:)
And a pot which will be very handy to store chicken feed in (when I get those chickens, which are the most well-appointed imaginary chickens ever), and a little shelf which I NEEDED, but can't quite decide where I need it yet..
Now, an extraordinarily wonderful thing that happened in February was the response to me mentioning that I was hunting for a second-hand lap top - and my old friend and dear reader Jen has a Very Useful Man indeed, who saves and reconditions unwanted laptops, and sent one to me! I am so excited about this; it is currently in the post, and I am hopping up and down with joyful anticipation. Jen and Chris, you are bright, shining stars:)
There we have it - everything that arrived in our house in February. Not much left the house- some more of Posy's outgrown clothes and school uniform passed on, some more clothes came her way as hand-me-downs.. the rhythm of life for sensible parents everywhere:)
So actually, I bought less new this month, had an awful experience at Kmart, but know not to repeat that. What I am really enjoying is the freedom to not go shopping. My errands day is much briefer. I go to the bank, the library and pay the bills. Sometimes I have a particular thing I need to shop for, but I don't feel like I have to look in any shops in case I am missing a bargain, because I know the best bargain is to not go shopping!
My next month's accounting will have to include gifts, which is exercising my brain a bit at the moment. We have had one child's birthday party to attend so far, the present for which was supplied by the 'present box' in the top of the wardrobe. But soon the present box will be bare. What then? And then I have relatives and my own children's birthdays to cater for... I actually made a gift for Rosy's birthday last week, which I am still in shock about - but it will be a couple of months before I can reveal it on the blog. Stay tuned for some unexpected creativity! And tell me about your best hand-made or second-hand sourced gifts. Please.