Monday, 17 March 2008

I just don't buy it

What I call the Reality Gap is widening daily and I’m in danger of falling in it. On one side, there’s a growing sense of huge approaching change. On the other side, you switch channels and there’s business as usual: buy, buy, buy; drive, drive drive; blah, blah, blah.

So it’s very comforting to meet other people who are quietly Minding the Gap. I recently discovered my friends Oliver and Sacha were doing this when I tried to flog them a copy of Transition Handbook at the Farmer’s Market. This is what Sacha told me (and bear in mind that she is one of the most stylish women around town):

‘We’re not buying anything new. We started in January with a six-month pledge. We can buy basic day-to-day stuff like underwear, floor cleaner, presents and food. But the other stuff like books, cds, clothes, coats: you can buy anything second hand. Just after we started our fridge broke down; we bought a great second-hand fridge for half its normal value.

‘I also started a clothes swap five years ago. I had a big bag of clothes I was going to take to the charity shop. I called up about 15 friends who brought clothes they didn’t want and we dumped them on my living room floor. We put a pound in for each item we took and gave that to charity. Now I do the clothes swaps in Iford Village Hall with more people; last time we made £265. I come away with wonderful stuff I could never have afforded to buy new, like a silk shirt from Joseph.’

‘My biggest learning is that I don’t need to buy things I thought I needed. I’ve found it liberating. I feel better about myself because I’m living by the values I feel are important. This experiment has made me really look at life in a different way.’

(Insider information: check out the Story of Stuff, a humorous animated story told by Annie Lennard)

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