This morning I went down to my local bookshop to pick up a copy of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. The book was first published some years ago, but like many things, I’m only getting to it now.
The reason I’m getting to it now is because my theme for 2022 is minimisation (and yes, I realise the irony of purchasing a book when I’m focused on minimisation, but my thinking is that what I’ll learn will enable me to make even better choices in the future, so there will be a net gain for the planet).
I have ‘minimisation’ scrawled across the top of my white board in huge letters (yes, more irony) as a daily reminder to think about the choices I make as a consumer. But even though I’ve practised some sustainable consumerism all my life, I have to say it isn’t always that easy to make the ‘better’ choice because sometimes the better choice is less convenient or it will take more time or it will cost more money or it won’t achieve exactly what you were hoping to achieve. So, making the better choice generally means you need to be flexible and compromise.
Of course, there are also times when the more sustainable choice gives a superior outcome. If you looked in my kitchen cupboards now, you’d see that almost all of my cutlery and crockery is courtesy of a bygone era.
The retro cutlery handles the dishwasher so much better than the new stuff and the retro plates – I mean, how cute are they?
As a teenager with a fondness for the quirky, I spent many an afternoon in an op shop, flicking through coat hanger after coat hanger of lairy shirts and stretched knits in the hope of finding just the right piece to express my personality. While the search for ‘just the right thing’ is no longer the financial necessity it once was, reducing my environmental footprint remains a driving force in my pursuit of the pre-loved. Of course, I am not alone in this.
Ethical purchasing, sustainable living and the circular economy are now part of our everyday, with op shopping now a values driven activity for many (Charitable Recycling Australia has a wealth of material on building a more sustainable environment and an equitable society. If you want to dive a bit deeper into the circular economy, check out the report from Monash University that looks at the circular economy through the lens of a t-shirt. Also, check out Never Ever Pay Retail’s reasons as to why we should all be op shoppers).
Minimisation has been a theme for my in-laws this year too, as they prepare to downsize from their home of 50 years. As you can imagine, they’re finding it difficult to decide what to keep and what to pass on. What I’ve noticed, though, is that they find it harder to part with the things that they bought new, regardless of how useful that thing is today.
This got me thinking about my habits around letting go of stuff and I realised that being a second, third or even further owner of something, severs any attachment I might have to the thing; that is, I tend not to feel the same level of ownership of a pre-loved thing as I do over something I’ve bought new from the shops. So, I find it easier to recirculate a pre-loved thing once I’ve finished with it, than I do to let go of something I’ve purchased new.
Which leads me back to the book. On the inside cover of the book is this panel.
To keep, barter, swap or pass – this book might just be a good test.