The Disposable Age

A Thought Experiment

If you aren’t already sitting down, take a seat, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Let your mind follow a seemingly endless path, one which leads you deep into the woods, a path dappled with sunlight eventually leading you to a secluded hollow with a bed of soft moss where you lay down with your arms and legs outstretched. Clear your mind of work, kids, traffic, and the latest electricity bill. Once your mind is a blank canvas, think about societal values, in particular the noun-phrase a ‘throw away society’. Now, can you tell me when the world went from valuing ethics, belongings, and people to having such a disposable view of everything from money, to clothing, electrical goods and life?

Isn’t this bliss?

Isn’t this bliss?

Now tell me what that date is. Hmm, you are struggling too? Maybe just give me a year then. No?

A New Age

Disposables have had such a massive impact on our world, the date it started should be officially defined, at least vaguely like the Ice Age or Bronze Age. Let’s call this is the Disposable Age, centuries from now archaeologists will have their fossil brushes out dusting dirt away from smart phones and sneakers (a.k.a. runners or trainers) and writing papers on these objects that were once worshiped.

Is that a Walkman under an ipod?

Is that a Walkman under an ipod?

I have been wracking my brain for so long that I really need a pain-killer and a lie down (any excuse right!). If you aren’t familiar with the term ‘throw away society’ it is used to describe the disposable and over-consuming character  of our society. Things today are built for short-term and disposable use. Basically, it is often cheaper to just buy something new than it is to repair the old.

Until now, I never gave it much thought. I was guilty of participating in this throw away society and I am not proud to say that. For many (including myself on occasion) it has come down to cash – why spend money to get something fixed, sometimes more than you paid for it initially, when you can replace it brand-spankin’-new for cheaper? For others (again I begrudgingly raise my hand) it sadly comes down to laziness – why fix a hole in a sweatshirt/jumper or sock when you can get something not eaten by moths from Kmart for under $10?

I think what gave me most pause for concern is when you automatically ditch something without consideration. For the children growing up in a time of indifferent disposability (hmm, I thought I just created a new word, one of my favourite past times, but alas it is in the dictionary, dang!) they will simply throw it away and buy new as they don’t know anything different. They won’t have the fond memories of patched clothing, stubborn grass stained knees despite all that scrubbing, or the many bleeding fingertips pricked by needles learning to sew. Instead, their memories will be like a fast-forwarded slideshow of thousands of belongings. So it’s up to us to teach them. I don’t have kids of my own, but I do have God children who I adore, so I will pass what I can to them and try to educate people in a different way.

Next week I am taking a day off work and spending it with my God daughter Matilda. I gave her a Willy Wonka type Golden Ticket for Christmas: $40 to buy whatever she wants and lunch at her favourite sushi train. I am hoping to convince her that she will get more for her money at an op shop (a.k.a. thrift store) than at Kmart. I will report back on this possible struggle of Samson super strength proportions – wish me luck!

Speaking of op shops – each week I am going to review ethical clothing options in Adelaide!

This week, it is SWOP Clothing Exchange

SWOP Clothing Exchange

SWOP-shop

Don’t be put off by the steep staircase that takes you down to SWOP – it leads you to an absolute treasure trove of pre-loved finds! Their racks are filled with vintage, retro, and modern clothes. Most are store bought, but there are few are handmade as well. You can either just go in to buy a fabulous piece or you can take a bag of clothes in on a Friday and ‘swop’ with the store (you get 25% if you prefer cash or 50% of the resale price in store credit). The staff are really lovely and happy to talk you through the process. The shop is super clean and the in-store music is actually palatable, unlike the department stores. Their pricing is a little more expensive than Salvo Stores or Goodwill, but each item of clothing is clean, pressed, and in excellent pre-loved condition. It is definitely worth a visit!

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About the Author

Sam is a lover of travel, fashion, tea, winter and Star Wars; a bibliophile and pluviophile; a worker, a volunteer, a wife and mum of three fur children. She’s scared of chickens and the inevitable zombie apocalypse. The world is such an amazingly beautiful place so she don’t understand why we are intent on taking it to the brink of destruction. Shes, for one, want to change that.

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