Awareness of the environmental impact of our consumption-driven society is slowly increasing. Whether we are talking about clothes or other goods, every new item we purchase has cost the environment in some way. The raw materials used have come from the earth. Equipment has been manufactured to craft the products, is run on electricity and requires maintenance and parts. Once made, products are packaged in plastic, paper and cardboard. More resources like oil and fuel are used in their transportation, often from overseas. Then there is the human cost. People are very often exploited in factories and sweat shops, and work under poor and sometimes dangerous conditions for very little pay.
Too often, items are purchased, briefly used and enjoyed, and discarded. Little thought is given to the environmental and human resources that have gone into their making.
There are 3 things we can all do to help.
Buying pre-loved items of all kinds from op shops makes great economic and environmental sense. And the money from your purchases goes toward providing help for people who are disadvantaged.
Here is a large 70s-era casserole dish I picked up at an op shop, after mine developed a crack after about 15 years of use. It was $6. And I was lucky enough to stumble upon this Bendigo Pottery dish for $9. I had a smaller one for about 20 years which slipped right off the oven gloves one night and smashed onto the floor. That was bad enough, but it took with it a lovely spanish onion and blue cheese tart I had just baked!
This entire outfit cost $14 at an op shop. The jumper is 100% cotton and is from Yarra Trail. The pants have been hand hemmed and were obviously owned by a woman exactly my height and size. The coffee table was bought at a second-hand store at least 20 years ago. Recently I was at an op shop looking for something else and these matching chairs were outside, for $25 each! Our existing cane chairs, which were bought from a friend years ago when she was down-sizing, had perished from the sun. I found the cushions in another op shop for $4 each.
Now, I can afford to buy new items and I often do. I would hate to think that my op shop purchases deprive someone who is disadvantaged from affordable access to the things they need. But there are 6 op shops bursting with goods within a 15 minute drive of my home. So it appears there is plenty to go around! This is a good thing in some ways. But is also says much about our obsession with shopping and consumerism.
Are you also a fan of op shops? What purchases have you made from them? Do leave a comment and let me know.