When was the last time you bought NOTHING for the first time?
We live in a consumerist world where society encourages and teaches people to always want more. To strive for the bigger, better, faster, more efficient items or products. Across all levels, industries, and sectors the goal to churn out new items, products or trends has exploded, with companies mass producing goods at unprecedented rates. We can barely keep up and yet we continue to blindly become sucked into the viscous and never ending cycle of consumerism.
We sign phone contracts that require us to regularly upgrade our devices, we buy our children toys that break within a couple of days, and we purchase clothes that go out of trend every week. The whole system gears us towards needing and wanting more. Its a business and a dirty one at that. The cell phone and technology industry alone is estimated to contribute to 14% of all carbon emissions by 2040, that's half as large as the impact of the entire transportation industry.
But what happens to all the 'old' stuff we no longer want? What happens to that broken plastic toy car you threw away? What happens to the pair of shorts you no longer liked or last year's cell phone that just needed to be upgraded? Well, a majority of it ends up in landfill. Those of us that are more mindful of our impacts might have saved those items by donating them or giving them to someone else, but the truth is a large portion of the population doesn't think like that, so most of our old, broken, or out of date items, products and devices are dumped along with everything else to massive landfill sights, where they will sit for hundreds of more years, slowly breaking down into microplastics or microfibres, leaching toxic chemicals, washing out to sea and one day ending up in the gut of a fish or bird and perhaps continuing on its journey into the digestive system of the everyday human.
So how do we change this system? Shake up the pattern and break this cycle? We're sitting here with mountains of unused items being considered 'trash' and yet hundreds of people don't have the privilege of bringing home toys for their kids or purchasing a set of new clothes or a school uniform. We have so much stuff and yet most of it isn't even being used.
ENTER: secondhand shopping.
A vast majority of the stuff we get 'rid' of is actually perfectly fine, so why not pass/sell it on to someone else? We need to break out of the linear consumerist system and start operating in a much more circular one. Stop thinking of things as single use, stop throwing things out and chucking them away. Think about the potential for the item you no longer want to bring someone else joy? We can create a circular system by thinking beyond ourselves and engaging with others, our friends, family and community.
You can buy all kinds of items secondhand, from gadgets and devices to cars and equipment. From clothes, shoes and accessories to books, toys, furniture and decor. And there are so many ways to do this; you can buy from charity shops, thrift stores, antique shops, online secondhand shops/pages or Facebook groups and market places, the options are endless. Plus the brilliant thing about secondhand shopping is that it usually works out to be much cheaper than buying something new. You can also contribute your unwanted items to charity shops and thrift stores or sell them in an online page or group. A circular system and economy is all about supporting, contributing and interacting.
And I want to bring that right here to Knysna. I'm very excited to announce two things! First of all I have started a secondhand 'waste' exchange group on Facebook. This group is for anyone within the Garden Route area who wishes to donate, swap, sell or buy anything from unwanted furniture to maybe a large collection of glass jars, or that old piece of fencing or shade cloth, as well as clothes, books, toys and anything else that is gathering dust in your home. You never know it might just be what someone else is looking for. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure! If you're in the Garden Route and would like to join this group please click here and request to join!
The second announcement I have is an event announcement! On March 7th 2020 I will be hosting a clothing exchange! Those of you that don't know what a clothing exchange/swap is, its basically like setting up your own little thrift store. You gather a bunch of people and each person brings their unwanted clothing items and then you swap (or sell but for a minimal price) your items. Everyone gets the chance to clean out their closets plus swap or purchase a few new (old!) items! For all the information and to RSVP head on over here.
So I know this can all be overwhelming at times and of course its not always possible to buy everything secondhand or pass on every single item you have. Sometimes we have to buy new and sometimes certain things (think underwear that have reached their time!) just can't be passed on. But we can do what we can and that's the best thing we can do. We're all change makers in our own right and we have the power to take action within our own lives to create that change and hopefully inspire those around us.
Wishing you all a beautiful day or night, whenever you're reading this, and I really hope you take some of this to heart and start changing your shopping habits to support and contribute to not just your life but to the greater circle of life. Remember everything is connected. Our actions can have ripple effects that spread much farther than we think. So why not make those ripples and effects positive?
RSVP to THRIFT-ABLE // a secondhand clothing swap & shop + talk
Join our Waste Nothing Garden Route Resource Exchange Facebook group to buy/sell/exchange any items you want/need.
Join our Unlittered group to stay up to date and get involved in action for the planet
Enjoying these blog posts? Sign up to my mailing list and receive updates straight to your inbox.
Need some inspiration on all things mindful living, earth matters and how we can reduce our footprint? Subscribe to my podcast for weekly chats with interesting and knowledge packed people.
Connect with me on Instagram (@saharathagunna) and Facebook (@SaharNaomiThagunna)