RSS Feed

The Politics of Thrift

Posted on

Sometimes after being stuck in a jumper that smells of jumble all day because the initial wash failed to plumb the depths of the ancient fibres I like to climb up onto my moral mountain and let my mind rest upon the bigger picture of thrift.

Of course, I am addicted to charity shopping and car boot sales, I find huuuuuge joy in discovering unsung teacups going for a song and finding tossed out fabrics fit for a king. I take pleasure in finding a new purpose for my odd ends, or sewing a bit to a bob to meet a need.  It isn’t a chore, I don’t do it for The World or to fit in our budget.

But there is more going on, an activist undercurrent to all these thrifty antics.

Thrifting flips new The Bird.
I used to live in Oxford Circus in a big old house with a bunch of people, it was fun, I loved it. But when I moved to Camberwell, just a few miles south, we felt a huge relief from aggressive advertising campaigns. Everywhere you turn up in central London there is a monster poster revealing the latest new thing we require. Shiny things to boost our low self esteem, to show our individuality, to highlight our status (just the men)/beauty (the ladies, of course), because we deserve it.

When we get thrifty we reject the myth that NEW makes us. We hold on to our innate precious sense of identity, remain confident in choices, revel in relationship and community, understand that we exist to love and be loved, not to consume. (Or it is at least an attempt to hold on/ remain/revel/understand.)

People not corporations
Thrift places power into the hands of the homemaker, the discoverer, the determined. Thrifters make decisions that follow their gut or needs, not to benefit the profit margins of manipulative corporations. The pennies we have dished out for our magical junk will go in to pockets of enterprising parents at the car boot, or excellent charities (even better.) We are consciously stepping out of the consumption rat race, throwing a gloriously rusty spanner in the works- jarring the demand for unethically made goods and the tyrants that build empires from them.

Thrifty gets you crafting and there is power in making
In my stubbornness not to buy new things I do end up with some bizarre  mashups – slippers out of armpits, a book for a shelf. Thriftiness fuels creativity, it lends itself to making. I have written about the power of making before. I am certain that making puts you in touch with your soul, it is like scratching an itch, or filling a hole. When we Make do and Mend we feel like a million bucks, able to take on those big bad corporations, to survive and thrive without their help, thanks very much.


Have you seen the Story of Stuff? No???? Oh. My. Days. It is completely brilliant, you will not even notice 20 minutes of your life have just whizzed by. It pulls together all the strands of, like, stuff and things.



PS- I think there are other nuances that I haven’t gone into – like thriftiness and class, or how being thrifty can almost be a luxury as it kind of requires you to be time rich? These are maybe to explore another day…

PPS- As ever, would love to know your thoughts. Do you see your thrifty self as an Op Shop activist? Would you like to be thriftier?

17 responses »

  1. Consider me inspired. As we seek to turn our new house into a beautiful home, You thrifty bunch are helping me massively in thinking creatively about how I do this. NO MORE IKEA! Is my cry (though we might pop there occassionally…).

  2. I love this post! But I do also have some reservations, like the nuances you mention: thriftiness and class. It seems there are a lot of the ‘faux-poor’ embracing thriftiness but as a fashionable pastime, while still being huge consumers of the new and advertised in other areas of their lives. (For the record, I thrift because I need to, and because it fits with my personal ethos, but on the other hand, I am not completely on the breadline so it is a bit of a ‘lifestyle choice’ that I have a certain amount of luxury/free time to engage in).

    • Hello, Thanks Molly. Yeah there are some odd tensions out there- like the Guardian will feature a vintage spread but point people to high st stores where they can buy similar stuff rather than saying “This is just inspiration, rummage in your local jumble sale for smelly equivalents!” I mean really why wouldn’t they! Ha

  3. I do a bit of both, I buy most things second-hand, but some things you need and can’t always find or are generally too worn when thrifted (like jeans). I’m getting more thrifty as time goes on (and saving waver) in fact we’ve even embraced skipping, and our local dump allows local residents to take things away as well as drop them off! 🙂

  4. I so identify with this post, and love it! I am gonna have to print off some of the parts of what thrifting is and how it sets us thrifties/rooters/jumblies etc etc aside and stick it up in the kitchen or make a sampler out of it, it so gives me a feeling of joy ……and somehow of feeling good about myself and all us thrifties.
    With skipping for food in mind, have you ever read a book called FREE ‘Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society’ by Katherine Hibbert…fantastic book if you ever get a chance to read it.

  5. Wow I love this post I really love how people can find things from charity shops etc I just can’t seem to be as thoughtful as you are I look through the blog and see all your ideas and the best I can do is copy them my own ideas are really bad! Maybe I should read as many thrift blogs as I can for inspiration before I start the new hobby

    • Thank you.
      But you know what? Most things are inspired by others. Even things I am sure I’ve come up with are just memories I’ve very effectively stored in the back of my mind!
      I reckon it’s all about being inspired by other blogs etc, and keeping tapped into a creative community.
      Do you know about the monthly Pinaddicts challenge? Next one is hosted at

  6. Pingback: A few of my favourite things #4: Lulastic and the Hippyshake | thrift shopper for peace

  7. LOVE your comment “thrifty gets you crafting and there is power in making.” So, so true. The thrifty projects are what makes a house a home;-)

  8. Pingback: One Lovely Blog | thrift shopper for peace

  9. great post! i love your blog so much i gave you an award. check it out here.

  10. Pingback: Second hand glad rags « Lulastic and the Hippyshake

  11. Pingback: A posh ceremony and bargain glamour « Lulastic and the Hippyshake

Leave a Reply to lulastic Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: