5 Reasons Why I Shop Thrift: Guest Post

Angelika Dawson is a friend, fellow congregant at Emmanuel Mennonite Church here in Abbotsford and a thrift shopper.  Her blog, Thrift Shopper for Peace is an inspiration, bare bones practical, filled with tips, amazing finds, and theological reflection on thrifting.  I am thrilled that she took time to offer her words of wisdom on thrift shopping here at anabaptistly.  Here are her 5 reasons why she thrifts.

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mcc-mission-sign

The words “second-hand” have been a part of my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. I grew up with hand-me-downs and things my mom bought at the local Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop. When I began earning my own money, it was just natural that I would shop there as well. I still have the very first item I bought with my own money over 25 years ago: an over-sized, man’s sweater.

Why thrift? For me, thrift is more than a shopping option, it is a lifestyle. Here’s 5 reasons why I choose a thrift lifestyle and why I think you should too:

1. It is active peacemaking.

Thrift shopping supports the environment, volunteerism in the community, and charity at home and abroad. It creates a level shopping ground for people of all income levels. Most thrift shops also support people who have no income or who find themselves in a tragic situation (like the aftermath of a fire). In all these ways a thrift lifestyle makes me conscious of how I relate to my world, my community and those around me, allows me to do so from a peace-making perspective.

2. It is environmental

When I donate and purchase at a thrift shop I’m keeping things out of a land-fill – making peace with the environment. Everything that you see in a thrift shop still has purpose, is still usable, still has worth – why would you throw that into the garbage? More importantly, why would you purchase something new when you don’t have to?

3. It is counter-consumerist-culture.

Related to #2, when we purchase something used, we are making a powerful statement. We are saying that we do not conform to society’s constant need to consume and to consume something new. Are there times when we need new things? Of course there are – but those times are much fewer and farther between than you think. Purchasing thrift also changes my relationship with my stuff. If I break the wineglass that I bought for 50cents, I don’t weep – but I might have, if I’d spent $25 on it. As I think on that, I re-evaluate again: why would I cry over the loss of an expensive item? It’s just a material thing after all. So shopping thrift makes me less attached to the material and allows me to focus more on the relational, the spiritual, the intangible things that really matter to me.

4. It supports both charity and volunteerism.

Volunteering is often thought of as something you do for others and in a sense that is true: when I volunteer at my local thrift shop, I help the organization supported by it to save money so that more money can go to the charity’s cause. But what I have discovered is that volunteering benefits me as much if not more. Aside from the warm-fuzzy feeling of doing something altruistic, I benefit from being part of a community of people that I might not interact with otherwise – both the other volunteers and the public. These people have enriched my life in many ways. A bonus for me personally, is that I’m also doing something completely different from my paid work, which I find refreshing and enriching.

5. It saves money.

Yup, at the end of the day, that’s a powerful motivator. Why would I spend $50 on a pair of jeans when I can get the same ones at a thrift shop for $5? The same can be said for most everything else: books, shoes, school supplies, dishes, furniture, sports equipment, gardening tools, CDs, decorations…. You get the picture. Purchasing my material possessions at a thrift shop allows me to use my income to do other things that I might not be able to afford otherwise – like purchasing fair trade items, which are typically more expensive, for example.

These are just a few reasons why I try to live a thrift lifestyle. I’m learning all the time – maybe you have other reasons for why you choose to live thrift. I’d love to learn from you too.

Angelika Dawson

Angelika Dawson - thrift shopper

Thirteen: “Kony 2012” Compelled to Connect Pt4

It is safe to say that Kony 2012 is all over the place.  Twitter and Facebook alone became saturated with pictures, comments and videos.  Heck last night alone 20 people in my Facebook network posted the video or other links about the movement.  Not just my fellow British Columbians, but people from all over North America.

Connection is happening all over the place in the name of Kony 2012.  It is compelling, it is gripping because we are people created to connect.  It is in our DNA to connect with God and to connect with each other.   Technology gives us the persistent opportunity to do this with great efficiency.  As we have seen with Kony 2012, it can start movements.

According to Derek Sivers, a movement starts not with a leader, but with the people who are willing to follow.  When you have followers you create momentum.  When there is momentum it is almost impossible for the idea to stay within the nebulous world of digital social media.  It hit’s your home, it hits the streets, it hits your neighbourhood and beyond.  Things start moving.  It is attractive because people want to be part of something larger than themselves.  There is this desire because our individualistic society isolates us to the point where we need each other for belonging.   Peter Block speaks of this in his book “Community: The Structure of Belonging.”  He continues on to say;

“Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence.”

Movements assume the interdependence of a connected network of people willing to participate in something greater than themselves.  It is safe to say that Kony 2012 is a movement that has given people a place of belonging.  And it’s beautiful. Think critically, get involved, Kony is a monster who forces children to kill. But it is also a reminder, that though we are compelled to connect with one another in the name of something far greater than the individual, there is also a great divine connect waiting, just waiting for us to become active participants. It’s more than a movement, it’s citizenship and incarnation of a Kingdom and a world born within the dreams of God.  We need our connections with God and with each other to be stronger than that which empowers movements.  Follow Jesus, be missionaries of each and every moment.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”  Matthew 6:10,11

Previous Post: Twelve: “The Disconnect Box” Compelled to Connect Pt 3

(If you have not seen the video that has hit the social media world by storm, I have embedded it below)

Seven: To Follow is to Lead?

“If you really care about starting a movement have the courage to follow and show others how to follow.”

– Derek Sivers

Watch this video.  If you have seen it already, watch it again.  It is quickly becoming a classic.  In 3 minutes Derek Sivers gives us the key to starting a movement.  It may not come from where you think.

When I watch this video my mind becomes saturated with the sheer boldness of the first followers of Jesus.  I’m reminded of biblical legends John the Baptist and the apostle Paul.  They followed.  I think of our world today, of those who follow Jesus into the dirty places and spaces wherein nobody else dare set foot.  Imagine how much momentum could be gained by being courageous in who we choose to follow.  A movement doesn’t depend on the ‘lone nut’ rather it is indebted to the first follower(s).  This idea turns leadership on its head and says that to lead is to follow.

This video poses a question,among many; do you dare follow?

Jesus called out to them, “come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.” And they left their nets at once and followed him.

– Matthew 4:19,20

Two: What to do with a good idea

“…when one looks at innovation in nature and in culture, environments that build walls around good ideas tend to be less innovative in the long run than more open-ended environments.  Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine.  They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders.  They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.”

Steven Johnson “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” page 22

Let’s say an idea hits you in the face so hard that it knocks your socks off and makes you cry for your mom.  What do you do with it?

Do you try to ignore it? 

Do you love it, keep it as your pet, put it in a box somewhere where nobody can find it?

Do you share it, put it out there across twittersephere, facebook, the church foyer, around the office, or in a conversation at a coffee shop or pub?

Instead of hiding your idea, share it!  Collaborate with others, and get different perspectives from different contexts.  Gather up and connect thoughts on your idea from friends and family, seek out those who’ve done similar things in different places and spaces and understand the process as much as you look at the results of an idea.  

Even better still, connect your idea with other ideas.

Try it.  Your good idea will no longer then dependant upon you, rather it becomes dependant upon the community of people with whom you have surrounded yourself and your idea.  It is a testiment to the importance of community and points to the brillance of collaboration.  This is where innovation begins and creativity is empowered.  As I reflect on this, it begs the question; 

Is your faith community a place in which you feel empowered to share your ideas? 

(for a compelling TED talk on this topic by Steven Johnson click here)