Our earth and its infinite biological variations and geological formations in the finest hours.
Genuine expressions and future memories of people and pets as seen through my eyes.
Life snippets on farms and intentional communities along the North American west coast.
I love getting used stuff.
Especially at thrift stores. (Well-run) thrift stores that are genuinely community-driven and provide employment opportunities for folks in the nearby neighborhoods are, to me, not only socially responsible, economically non-limiting, and environmentally sound. Plus, you never know what you’re gonna stumble upon. Treasures to be discovered!
I’ll speak a bit more on the environmental front. Every merchandise we purchase or consume uses natural resources of some sort. Without FULLY getting into life cycle analysis of the hugely complex steps of resources extraction, refinement, transport, manufacturing, retail sales, and maintenance of any particular item, do know this — it is a hugely energy intensive process and in most cases, quite taxing on our environment. And this is only the environmental aspect. MUCH can be said on the (lack of) fair labor policies in place to protect workers, especially overseas, who are making these amazing devices and items of our everyday lives.
Since learning this in 2008/2009, I’ve been trying to purchase as much used (or as I often put it, “previously loved”) items as possible. My bike was purchased on Craigslist from another cyclist. My last 2 cars are both used, and my current vehicle is nearly as old as I am. My laptop belonged to someone else who decided it was time to upgrade. ALL of my camera gear except for several lens filters, 1 tripod, and my flash were purchased used. Many of my clothing items — perhaps half my closet — are from friends, REI garage sales, eBay, and thrift stores. I love the feeling of utilizing something that has minimal impact on the earth and its inhabitants. Getting used stuff eliminates the need for NEW materials, NEW mines, NEW oil pipelines, MORE transport routes, MORE exploitation of humans, MORE pollution, and not to mention — continuing the social hierarchy/status certain brands place onto folks of different economic levels. I don’t like ANY of that.
I really enjoy quality gear. Namely, outdoor and photography gear. Working at REI has given me some ridiculous access to quality gear at significantly lower retail costs. In the first few months, and I ain’t gonna lie about this — I splurged quite a bit. The bombproof Arcteryx jacket, the new hiking shoes, fancy this and that. I finally caught myself as I was spending what felt like superb deals on gear that I don’t absolutely need AND was questionable to its social and environmental impacts. I dug a little deeper and was quite disheartened to find that a huge majority of outdoor companies do not have widespread policies in place to protect their workers and, very ironically, the beloved places in nature where we use their gear. Patagonia is a true exception. They aren’t perfect, but damn they do try their best. Back in 2011, upon discovering that some of their factories in Taiwan were, in essence, practicing 21st century slavery, they quickly sent an investigation team to deal with and change the situation. Patagonia published the facts as they were on their website/blog, and made it clear to the public that it is something they will continue to work on with 3rd party companies to ensure compliance even in the 2nd and 3rd tier levels of the factories and supply chain. Patagonia ran a marketing campaign “Don’t buy this jacket” – in line with their own program “Worn Wear” to encourage folks to repair and resell their old gear. This is a service they provide in-house for any Patagonia products, free of charge. They have been a pioneer of using organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, AND ethically-sourced down. No other company I am aware of does all of this on their own.
The companies I’ve seen with a decent level of mindfulness in their resources usage and social-environmental responsibility are Prana, Toad & Co., United by Blue, Chaco, Royal Robbins, REI, Sanuk, and… well, I hope we’ll be able to add to this list.
Ok, so these photos. I scored these beauties at Value Village to showcase what one can find with a bit of time and patience:
$6.99 Chaco sandals
$7.99 REI hiking/travel shorts
$6.99 Paradox merino wool-polyester blend base layer
$9.99 Toad & Co. organic cotton shirt
$8.99 REI fleece sweater – made in USA (sadly, no longer)
$5.99 10,000 Feet Above Sea Level fleece pants
Plus 30% off those prices because I donated my old clothes and some other stuff I don’t need. ~$36 grand total. Just a new fleece sweater would be that much, if not more. Approximate time spend browsing and picking these gems out – 1 hour 15 mins.
Much more importantly, hardly any guilt in purchasing and enjoying these products outdoors for the rest of their lifetime.
Some additional reading if you are as passionate about this topic as I am:
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