For the year of 2012, I challenged myself to abstain from purchasing new products. I knew there were some items that I would have to buy new due to sanitation or availability, but I did try my darndest to get vintage and pre-loved goods. Now that it’s 2013 and I have been ‘freed’ from these restraints, I can’t help reflecting on my experience and how it changed my point of view.
1. Speed and Instant Gratification. Let’s say I want a night stand. When shopping for new items, it’s easy to go into a Target or Ikea or wherever and grab the first thing that seems right. But the world of vintage and used moves much slower. Once I have a nightstand in mind, the search begins, and it can be a very long process. Flea Markets, Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist, etc; sometimes I have to check all of these venues over the space of several months. The downside to this is the lack of instant gratification. But the upside is that when I do find the perfect thing, I value it that much more. I don’t buy because it’s there and kinda fits, I purchase it because it’s perfect. And I should know, because after months of scouring I’m practically an expert in the field.
2. Living Without. Buying only used left me out of a lot of circles. When my friends were chatting about their latest buys, and sales going on at local shops, I couldn’t really chime in (except for 50% off Wed at Sally Army). Putting a restraint like ‘only used’ also put such a long wait time (and list of places to search) that I ended up not buying some things I really needed. Like some new pants for winter. A combination of new and old helps bridge a gap: having a few basics sets a beautiful foundation for the vintage and used items I will surely find.
3. Used isn’t most important. For a second there, I got a little snooty about ‘used’ (gasp! Me?!) I thought recycling was most important, and I forgot about my love of fashion. I was so caught up in using repurposed materials that I made all kinds of horrible mistakes making items out of the wrong kinds of fabrics. These were important lessons to learn, of course, but I now know that recycling is not a god. Going to a fabric store for something special is OKAY and Global Warming won’t take over if I do. Which brings me to…
4. Handmade artists. There are so many wonderful artists out there making beautiful things (browse Etsy much?), and buying all used completely excludes most of these amazing people. Shopping small and handmade is such an important part to what I imagine to be a sustainable economy. I truly believe that the world at it’s best is individuals following their passion, in their own area of expertise.
What does this mean for Nothing New?
My baby, ‘Nothing New’ will of course still be repurposed items. It’s still my mission to save the planet, one dress at a time! With Nothing New I can contribute to the availability of beautiful pieces that just happen to be repurposed and sustainable.
What does this mean for me?
My challenge has taught me a lot of patience, which is helpful in so many realms. The opportunity to reflect on and reconsider my consumption habits is priceless, and I am so happy that I was given this chance. That being said, I will no longer be purchasing all used. I have learned to first ask myself questions before purchasing: Can I get it used? Do I want it used? Can I get it local? What about handmade? Sometimes the answer to all of these questions is “No,” or sometimes the time/cost of getting something used or handmade is too much for me. And I’ve learned to accept that and not send myself on a downward spiraling guilt trip. After all, I think it’s balance that brings happiness, simplicity and therefore managability to life.