The kids and I were in the Big Smoke this week and it was shiny and glossy and full of hipsters and 'stuff', both of which I pointed out like the country bumpkin I am. "Look, look! It's a hipster. I swear I was one of those bright young things ten, sorry, fifteen, o forget it- years ago." "Ooh. Shiny."*
The kids and I checked out op-shops in the Big Smoke and came away laden with 'stuff'. Okay, I did. And the Poppet. The Sprocket turns up his nose at anything that isn't a robot so came out of two of three shops empty handed. Not so the Poppet and I. We could learn a lot from him.
I love op-shopping. The thrill of the chase is so much more real when you truly have No Idea what's going to turn up. But... I find once I go on an op-shopping binge the urge for 'more' takes a bit of killing.
The perfect cups? Yay. But what will be in the next shop? The gorgeous winter dress for the Poppet. But the next shop might just have... the Holy Grail?
At the beginning of the year I decided not to buy anything that wasn't second hand or handmade. Halfway through the year I'm considering how it's going.
It takes planning. Planning is not my forte. You need to plan ahead for things like kindie drink bottles and lunch boxes and winter shoes and gumboots. And birthday presents I was absolutely and completely going to get around to making (way in advance) in a thoughtful, handmade kind of way... four months ago... and they are now ridiculously late and why don't I just pop along to a shop right now... I mean tomorrow.
I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'm looking out for summer clothes now. Also school clothes for next year. Yes, it would be easier (and cheaper) just to go to Big W. But we're actually time rich. And now the kids know about the wonderful world of op-shops (you let Mummy look around for five minutes and you can completely have that bag-of-annoying-plastic-stuff-they're-desperate-to-get-rid-of-and-I'll be-picking-up-for-the-next-week-and-then-return-to-the-nearest-op-shop/pink gilt necklace) it's a whole heap more do-able. And fun. Just. Addictive.
Op-shopping is also guilt-free. Even if the stuff was originally made in a sweat-shop and will end in landfill (sooner rather than later with my family) the guilt stays with the original purchaser. (Win.) And to be honest the best stuff is the oldest stuff and not the sweatshop fall-apart-in-three-minutes-stuff.
One of my friends earnestly assured me a few years back that ethical shopping was the sop of the middle class, the thing we do instead of you know, actually doing anything, but the truth is that even if I wasn't trying to shop ethically and limit our massive footprint (apart from the, you know, no-sleep-last-night- 'whatever' days) ... I regret to admit it, but I wouldn't be marching in the streets or working for the revolution. I'd be sort of hoping the revolution didn't stuff up the kids education and hoping it didn't arrive too soon.
The killer, the kick to all of this keen desire to save the world's resources?
One of the series I'm presently working on is about a family of five shopkeepers. Shopkeepers of the most opulent, luscious, decadent and extravagant of luxury goods. Of course, they get their stuff completely fair trade and environmentally friendly because it's all imported from a magical world created by the wishes of their maternal ancestors. Talk about cop-out.
Originally, the Emporium Sisters Escapades were going to be romance/detective novels set entirely in this world as the girls tried to source their goods in a fair-trade, sustainable kind of way, but I reluctantly realised I'm not a romance writer. I need dragons. And made up worlds. And the fantabulous.
But of course, I still (obviously) need to research and taste test the girls opulent, decadent goods.
Excuse me, but I need to hunt down some hand-crafted, sustainable, totally impractical, hipster-worthy goods. Luckily, the next town along has the perfect stuff.
Rose caramel chocolate anyone?
*I used that line in a novel recently and at least five people pointed out the character sounded like a half-wit. I downgraded her age to 13. It worried me.