Ah!.... So today is the day that I make you all sit up and take notice of all the babbling on I've been doing for the last few months about upcycling and living a more sustainable life. Today I'm going to show you in a more practical way how you can be more mindful of creating a more sustainable world one little bit at a time.
Today I want to talk about thrifting............Now most of my USA friends probably know exactly what I'm talking about but in Europe and especially Ireland the concept of thrifting is relatively new.
To be clear the term "Thrifting" refers to the "act of shopping at a charity shop, flea market, car boot sale, garage sale or a gently used clothing store. In other words thrifting is any used clothing, furniture ,bric-a-brac , books etc that you buy for the purpose of using. These thrift/charity shops are run by a charitable organisation to raise money for the charities causes and purposes. They sell mostly used goods that are donated by the public and are usually staffed by volunteers. The items can be sold at competitive prices as the costs of running these shops are generally low.
I grew up in Tipperary ( rural Ireland) in a little town where the idea of "thrifting" was an alien one. The only time I remember the concept of it put into practical use was the "second hand" uniform sales that were organised by the nuns at the convent where I went to school. There was a certain "stigma" attached to this sale at the time and it was regarded as a way of providing uniforms to families that generally couldn't afford new ones.
At this time there were no charity or thrift shops anywhere in Ireland outside of the major cities. My father worked a lot in Dublin and my mother and I used to travel with him for a "day out" during the summer holidays. It was in Dublin that I first got hooked on thrifting. My mother was naturally a very frugal woman and was always on the look out for quality thrifted gems.
I remember my first item of clothing that I purchased myself as a teen . It was a leather brown bomber jacket with a furry collar. It was actually a vintage 70's jacket but I purchased it at the time just because I loved it and was totally oblivious to the concept of "vintage".
However , vintage and charity shopping was about to undergo a quiet revolution and as soon as I started living in Dublin and working there were new ones opening every few months. I quickly realised that this was a great way for me to develop my own style and on a budget too. At the time I must confess I wasn't thinking of being sustainable or environmentally friendly just buying funky pieces of clothing that normally I wouldn't be able to afford and mixing them up with high street buys.
As the years have rolled by charity shops have opened all over Ireland and now that sleepy town in Tipperary where I grew up boasts seven charity shops. Some sell clothing and others furniture etc. This is typical of every rural town in Ireland now as each county has its fair share of charity/thrift shops. Even tiny villages I've come across mange to have at least one these days.
The look and feel of these charity shops have also changed significently and gone are the days when you would enter a glumy and musty smelling shop filled with drab clothing. Some of Ireland's charity shops are some of the prettiest I've seen and would challenge even the smartest boutiques.
These are now smart funky shops filled with colour co-ordinated merchandise and pretty displays with scent infused air. They attract the eye and are bright and welcoming environments to browse and shop alike. Some of my favourites thrifting haunts are actually in the little seaside town of Bray where I live just outside Dublin . This little town has no less than ten charity/thrifting shops two being furniture shops that stock modern and retro style furniture pieces. I have shopped and upcyled many furniture pieces from these little shops in the past.
In 1947 Oxfam appealed for donations of blankets and clothing in the UK for the famine struck Greeks at the time. The response was so great that they had an enormous surplus of excess stock. So they decided to sell this surplus as a further way to help the famine victims and opened what was to become the "model" for future charity shops at No 17 Broad Street in Oxford. Charity shops quickly grew in popularity in Britian in the 1950's with Sue Ryder opening several shops during this decade.
Charity shops really came into their own in the UK in the 1960's fuelled by the emergence of a "throwaway" society previously unheard of. The word "disposable" was a new and daunting concept that emerged from this era. So the more cheap clothing that was produced the more donations were being made and so it went on through the decades and fuelled the strength and success of the charity/thrift shop as we know it today.
I have included in this post photos of several items that I have purchased on my various trips around the country and also in Dublin and my hometown of Bray. Charity shopping in Ireland is slowly becoming more popular and I have even persuaded my more reluctant friends to give it a try and they have all been pleasantly surprised. Some amazing treasures can be found if you have the patience and determination to succeed.
I intend to write a post on Ireland's best thrifting venues and hidden gems. However , if you look you will find one in a city/town/village near you. There's no escaping them and no excuse not to enter and have a peek. I would be very interested in your opinion of charity/thrift shopping and also what treasures you have found in them. Let me know in the comments.
Hopefully I have inspired and encouraged you to maybe look at the numerous items out there that are waiting to be purchased in the many charity/thrift shops and markets out there. Items that if given a little time and care can be turned into unique treasures. Remember also , that in particular , furniture that was made in the last few decades and is now overflowing in our charity shops is superb quality compared to the cheap supermarket type "flat pack" stuff that is so popular nowadays. Again I'd love to hear of any furniture up-cycling projects that you may be doing.
Talk soon. Lots of love XXX VIOLINKIT