Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on December 16, 2010 · 21 comments

Thrift store pajamas. Wrinkled from being slept in, but otherwise perfectly fine.

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

The Non-Consumer Advocate on Get Rich Slowly

My mornings are perfectly timed these days. The kids’ schools start an hour and 15 minutes apart from one another, which means that our mornings start slowly, with one kid at a time. Seriously, I don’t even wake the 12 year old until the 15 year old has left! For someone else this would be a negative, but I like the one-on-one time with each son. No fighting. No sibling issues. Easy.

This morning brought a nice surprise, which was an article about The Compact on Get Rich Slowly by staff writer Sierra Black. I had given this interview so long ago that I had completely forgotten about it, so at first I was actually kind of confused.

I don’t remember saying all that stuff. It’s sounds like something I would say, but . . . huh?

A nice addition to my otherwise relaxing morning.

Click HERE to read the article.

Bangladesh Fire Reaffirms my Reasoning for Not Buying Crap

There was an article in yesterday’s Oregonian newspaper about a garment factory fire in Bangladesh that killed at least 27 workers. (Most likely much more as there are reports of at least 100 people jumping from the tenth story building to escape the flames.) The factory produces clothing for Gap, JCPenney, H & M and Wal Mart and employs 13,000 people.

“Monir Hossain, a local journalist at the scene, told The Associated Press the blaze broke out on the two upper floors during lunch break. A gate on a stairwell was locked, trapping people inside the factory, which mainly produces T-shirts for international brands, he quoted witnesses as saying.”

The article has a lot of interesting and eye opening information about how Bangladesh’s workers are among the lowest paid in the world, and how there have been a number of recent violent protests concerning the low minimum wage,  which is $45 per month. There was also another another deadly garment factory fire in February, which killed 21 people.

I am almost entirely assembling my Christmas gifts from thrift stores, apart from two flatiron hair straighteners, (didn’t want to buy used) and a single made in China/overly packaged/plastic-ey toy that I bought for my six-year-old niece. (I was enticed by a super low Amazon price, combined with my Swagbucks gift cards.) I do have a few gifts left to buy, but think I’ll be able to plug these holes with consumables, experiential gifts and more thrift shop items.

One of the stock gifts for my family every year is a new pair of pajamas. We open them up on Christmas eve, put them on and get to wake up in attractive sleepwear. And yes, I always buy them used. I’m usually able to find new (or look like new) pajamas at Goodwill for around $3 – $7, often with the tags still on.

Right now, Old Navy’s Jingle Jammies were on sale for $8. (Old Navy also manufactures in Bangladesh.) It would have been super cute to buy everyone matching brand new pajamas, (think of the photos!) but I don’t want to support an industry that locks poorly paid workers into unsafe factories.

Would you consider making a one year pledge to buy nothing new for a year? I’ve been doing The Compact since January of 2007, and will continue on in 2011.

Need Extra Christmas Money?

Are all the extra expenses of the holiday season making you wish for a few extra dollars? No problemo, fellow non-consumers because now is an excellent time to take your unwanted belongings and turn them into money and store credit. And it’s e-a-s-y!

  • Take books you can bear to part with (including kid ones) to used book stores.
  • List large or valuable items on Craigslist. (I recently sold Robeez booties for $8 and an artificial Xmas tree for $15)
  • Glean your closet for unused clothing, coats, shoes and winterwear and take them to consignment shops. Don’t forget that kid consignment stores will also take books, furniture and toys. (I recently sold some ill fitting Danskos for $20)
  • Bring cool household items to antique stores or second hand (for-profit) shops.
  • Ebay! (I just sold a $5 Goodwill doll for $117.)

Use your creativity. Look around your house and turn that clutter into cash. It’s super addictive.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Darcidoodle December 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

Yay, Katie! The word about The Compact is really getting out there. I really like the idea and do the best I can to buy gently worn everything, but I don’t know if I could do it ALL the time. I make my clothes, and I’m not too psyched about buying secondhand fabric… not sure where The Compact stands on that.

You’re an inspiration, lady! Love seeing you on my other frugalista blogs!

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Harish December 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

Its really sad that these workers are underpaid and have to work in unsafe working environment , but lets say if all these global corporates close shop in these developing countries , what would happen then ? These workers would loose their livelihood and this would further exacerbate the already high unemployment rates. Unless these developing countries stop depending on developed countries for jobs and develop a sustainable economic model of their own , these kind of accidents are bound to happen.

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Laura December 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

In high school, I did this huge report that got my English teacher enraged about how sweatshops are good. That being said, this in no way justifies locking workers in a building. From what I have understood, many people are glad to work for $45 a month, and if they aren’t happy then there are other who would love to make the money instead. Why are hard-working people locked in their building? As a supporter of overseas factories, this is shocking to me and absolutely deserves more looking into.

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Elaine December 16, 2010 at 11:12 am

I remember a TV movie many years ago about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in the late 1800s. They had a tragic fire and found that the exterior doors were locked so the girls couldn’t sneak out during their shifts. It lead to the legislation we now have regarding fire doors, etc.

It’s a terrible thing, to think of underpaid (and probably mistreated) workers being locked in a burning building. Things won’t change until people decide to STOP buying goods made in these countries. And no, the old “but these people wouldn’t have any work at all if we didn’t buy these goods” arguement does not hold water. GRrrrrr!

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Laura December 16, 2010 at 11:46 am

Unfortunately, jobs like this do provide better support than subsistence farming. Otherwise, people in these impoverished areas would not feel as though they needed to take them.

What is needed is for developing countries to slowly make and _enforce_ their own safety laws. Once all possible places in the world to have factories have such laws, these things will not happen.

As for alternatives for us in the developed world, I would like to see more products made in the U.S. with better quality at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, this pretty much means not paying Union labor rates.

For myself, I have dabbled in making my own clothes in the past, and will try to do so again, at least somewhat.

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Sara December 20, 2010 at 2:34 am

I have to disagree here… locally based jobs will always be better for the people in that place than foriegn owned businesses. This is common sence, as the profit will likely be spent in that community, enriching it in the long run as opposed to syphoning off the money and resources of a place until there is nothing left. This syphon effect is what causes the desperation that forces people to take these sweat shop jobs, they really have no choice. Free trade and the IMF and World Bank set up these lecherous conditions on purpose and desperate or corrupt governments have to agree to them in order to get loans. Also, “subsistance” farming would be a much better livelyhood in the third world if it weren’t for their markets being flooded with imported, subsidized, often polluted foods. Free trade makes it illegal for countries to reject poor quality, imported food and to create market conditions that support local small scale farmers. Even so called foriegn aid has been used stategicaly to put local industries out of business. One example being with milk in Jamaica. As best as I can remember this was the jyst of it: Super cheap milk from the states was shiped in to “help malnourished childen”. Jamaican milk couldn’t compete so all the Jamacan milk distribution companies went under, then farmers were paid to destoy the milk that was still being produced to drive up the cost again, and famine, malnutrion and unemployment were worse than before. Than they set up an zone of the capital that is exempt from laws protecting workers rights and built a bunch of sweat shops there. Look it up. The details here might not all be perfect, but this is far from an isolated incedent. We’re not helping the desperate third world, we are creating it on purpose. If you want to help people with consumerism, support small scale local businesses and fairly traded things that cant be produced at home.

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Mary December 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

I don’t think we should knowingly support industries that abuse their workers! I will gladly pay more money to buy products that are made locally – I’ll just buy less stuff (we don’t need it anyway)
I love buying gifts from local craft markets or resale shops. I also bake bread or cookies for gifts every year.

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ozlem a. December 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I have recently been to Bangladesh and the reality over there is that these garment jobs have some benefit. They provide an organized working environment for people with basic education. The population of the country is so high it is impossible give them all work in agriculture. While not ideal, the garment business in Bangladesh has raised the standard of living in the country. Of course this is a sad case but in general there is a benefit to these jobs.

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Sara December 20, 2010 at 2:40 am

There is a common sense ratio that the number of people in a place are the amount needed to provide what is needed for those people. Wouldn’t they be better of if they were producing their own goods. We need to look at why these people were so desperate in the first place. “Helping” them with sweatshops is taking advantage of someone when they’re weak. I was raised that that is wrong and I bet you all were too.

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Jo@simplybeingmum December 17, 2010 at 3:06 am

Love the photo!

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Marianne December 17, 2010 at 3:51 am

Thanks for sharing the photo-im glad you have a healthy happy family. This article helped reignite my fire to buy used and make do with what i have. I am making a renewed effort to be a part of the compct this year and not just a part timer. :). Merry christmas!

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Dmarie December 17, 2010 at 5:09 am

what a fun pic! thanks for the challenge…definitely time to seriously consider not buying anything new. Can I really do that for a year? Maybe it is time to start really being green instead of just TRYING to be green!

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Erin December 17, 2010 at 6:41 am

You already have inspired me to commit to my own version of the Compact Katy! For all of 2010, I’m proud to say that I’ve only bought a single item of clothing outside a secondhand store, and that was a package of underwear. I haven’t totally committed to buying used for every last purchase, but it is certainly a goal of mine – I did manage to replace a dying microwave with a nice, shiny, refurbished one this year! The best part is the increased awareness I have about shopping. Shopping to fill a genuine need is one thing. Recreational shopping = a momentary rush followed by guilt and dissatisfation. I’m much better off taking that time to find things in my house that I can get rid of instead!! So thank you!

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Laura December 17, 2010 at 7:38 am

We’re doing the different school schedules as well this year, and I agree with the upsides you mentioned (no bickering, love the one-on-one time with each girl). However, I’m also making breakfast three times every morning, and have to make two trips out to get different girls to school at different times, so that takes some of the bliss out of the other stuff. Plus it makes for a very l-o-n-g morning for me. Next year we’ll be back to just two schools . . . and some bickering.

I find that if I tell anyone I’m not going to buy anything new, almost immediately something will come up that I can’t resist. The last time I pledged to buy nothing new, back in 2008, within a month the Eddie Bauer leather jacket I had coveted went on sale for 70% off. 70%!! My husband told me I would regret that I didn’t get it, and he was right. I love that jacket and am still wearing it. So no pledges, but just a conscious effort to buy nothing new and that works pretty well. Last year the only thing I bought new (for myself) was a turtleneck on sale from J. Jill. I get most of the girls’ clothes from resale or consignment, but they like new things too, so we have bought new for them. But all three are on years two and three of several pieces of clothing. My husband hates new clothes as it is, and is happy to wear everything until it falls apart.

Actually, I’ve made more of a pledge to just stop buying stuff, period, and get rid of more stuff around here. Three cheers for Craigslist, Freecycle, Goodwill, etc.!

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Laura December 17, 2010 at 11:02 am

The second consignment shop in town just closed. Now the only one left is an “upscale resale” women’s clothes store. I have fantasies about opening an kids consignment store but seeing as virtually no businesses do well where I live, I don’t think it would work out :/

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Lisa December 17, 2010 at 11:13 am

Laura- You’ll never know unless you give it a try! You might succeed where others have failed…especially if you could keep overhead at a minimum. Could you sell stock from a room in your home or from a home studio? Have you considered a mobile consignment shop…one that’s housed inside a movable trailer? Don’t give up on your dreams!

BTW, I loved the mishmash!

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Tracy Balazy December 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

I joined The Compact earlier this year, thanks to your suggestion, Katy, and I have bought no new shoes for a year and a half, no new clothing items for a couple of years, only resale. I need some socks and underwear, so I’ll have to get those new, but I’ll buy ones produced in North America (I usually find ones from Mexico at JCPenney, Sears and Kohl’s), not China. I can find American-made socks no problem. Don’t know why, things like cat litter boxes and socks made in the U.S. are abundant.

With patience, I’ve been able to find things that in my past I would have bought new, including two like-new Columbia ski jackets in my size (small) for $15 and $18 over the past few months at Value World. I always wanted a Columbia, and I’m glad I waited until I found them at resale. They’re the warmest jackets I’ve ever owned, which is integral to living in Michigan.

I don’t feel like dealing with consignment and eBay, although I have in the past, so I’ve donated a lot of clothes (98 items in the last batch that went; I’ve been watching HOARDERS) to the Council for the Blind non-profit thrift store. I’ve bought a lot of great clothes there, so I like making a contribution to the store. I weighed my time against the money I’d make selling some of the items (a couple of 1960s dressy coats, my wedding gown, etc.), and decided I’d rather spend that time reading a book or walking the dogs.

This will be my family’s first gift-free Christmas, although my stepmother doesn’t believe (she’s told me as much) we can truly enjoy Christmas without STUFF, so we’ll see how that goes.

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Deb December 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Does buying things from Etsy folk count? I desperately needed a new totebag and purse, and leather is too heavy for my shoulders. I scoured thrift stores but could not find anything I like at all. I found a FAB gal on Etsy, she lives in Thailand and makes the best bags from hemp and canvas, etc. I ordered 2 of them. I like supporting small business folks and artists on Etsy, and you can often get amazing deals too. So yes, the bags were new, but they were purchased in support of a small, crafty business woman.

I did have to purchase 2 loveseats this year. My other furniture was 17 years old and worn out. Due to bed bug fright, I was loathe to purchase second hand this time around. For the same reason, I purchased much needed bed linens new. And I’m feeling guilty about it!

But otherwise, I’m totally on board with the buying second hand and only when necessary pact, I promise! I agree about detesting the horrid working conditions that these 3rd world countries must endure, it’s very reminiscent of the work conditions in this country 100 years ago. I’m confident that they will organize and evolve and develop some basic labor rights, just as we did here. Progress usually comes in small steps.

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Deb December 20, 2010 at 3:53 pm

LOL, oh dear that didn’t come out right at all. “small, crafty business woman???” how about a very talented, crafty, small business woman!?

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farhana December 24, 2010 at 5:09 am

I am from Bangladesh and fire in a garment factory happens quite often. The saddest thing is, once the factory workers are inside, they lock all doors, there’s is no escape from fire, people jump from windows to escape death from fire only to be met with destiny on the cement sidewalk.

$45 is actually a very good salray for people, it’s like a dream job for most of them. Women and children know that it’s a fact they will be raped by fellow coworkers nemerous times but they have no other choice. My MIL’s housemaid quit her job because her two boys had started working in one of the garment factories, they are no older than 10.

Life, living has a different meaning for these people, if any at all.

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