Tag Archives: Charity

I am not Rich Enough to Buy Cheap Things

15 Oct

As I fill a bag with clothes to give to charity, I realise that I had bought most of these clothes from charity in the first place. Barely a year later, I am giving almost everything back, without having worn most of it. How to explain this phenomenon?

piles of clothes

I love charity shops for their original finds and low prices. In one particular charity shop, almost every item costs only…1€! The clothes are good quality and one can often find brands such as Deisel, Miss Sixty and Max Mara there.

Last year, when my salary did not allow for frequent high-street shopping trips, I would look for bargains in charity shops. Why waste money on the high-street when I can find such great deals in charity shops, right?

Wrong!

Charity shop shopping can often be like sales shopping – the prices are so low that it seems like a crime not to buy.

“I’m not sure whether this dress is my style”, I have said to myself, or “These shoes don’t quite fit right”, or “I can’t tell whether this coat really suits me”. But, in a charity shop, I have always finished these thoughts with “Well, it’s only 5 €, so I can’t miss out on this fabulous bargain!”

And here I am, a year later, with a bag full of clothes that don’t fit, that are not my style and that do not suit me. I had bought them hoping to save money, but it turns out that I actually wasted my money.

Ill fitting badly fitting shoes

On the other hand, I also own things that are worth a week of my salary. In these cases, it takes me at least an hour in one shop to pick out the perfect item; I try it on several times, walk around the shop with it, check it out from all possible angles, create a mental list of all the places I could wear it to and all the other clothes I could wear it with. I only buy it if ticks all of the boxes and if I really love it.

And this always pays off. These carefully chosen items make me feel good and look great, and last longer, too, because I take careful care of them.

I end up saving money, time and space by owning a few expensive items rather than a wardrobe-full of cheap ones.

After filling up my bag to the brim with unworn charity clothes, I finally understand my mum’s favourite shopping-trip phrase: “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things”.

Think Locally

18 Jan

We don’t necessarily need to move to a different city or different country in order to change our lifestyle: sometimes, all we need to do is change our current habits and a whole new world will open itself up. For those of us living in the city, one thing that could have a colossal effect on our lifestyle is simply choosing ‘to go local’.

In a cosmopolitan capital like London, we are constantly taught to think globally. We are encouraged to expand our vision of the world so widely that we are always aware of what is going on across the globe. Yet despite having such a good knowledge of the larger picture, Londoners  often don’t have a clue about what is happening in their own neighbourhood. We put so much importance on the big things, that the small things seem insignificant.

As a student, all of my activities took place in central London. I would go into town for lessons, for coffee with friends, for shopping, for a walk, for dance class, for language class, for bars and clubs and all evening events. The only time I spent in my area was to come back home to sleep! It seemed like central London contained the world, and I yearned to discover bigger things than my calm residential area could ever offer. Or so it seemed.

For the past four months I have, voluntarily but subconsciously, been keeping my movements very local. And I was amazed to recognise the effects of this choice. I am calmer and more sure of myself; I have discovered my natural routine, in which I have more free time than before; I have saved money and drastically reduced my consumption. Simply spending more time in a more peaceful area of the city has remarkably slowed down my pace of life, and this in turn has given my body time to rest, my mind silence to quieten and my soul space to breathe. I feel more stable, more comfortable, more together. Empty streets, calm movements and disengagement from time have helped me rediscover my individuality.

Regaining a sense of individuality is probably one of the best things that being actively present in the local community has given me. I no longer feel like just another face in a mass of people on the tube, just another employee on the way to work, just another consumer being carried in a crowd. I am an individual who makes a noticeable contribution to the things around her. Working in the bookshop I give honest recommendations, I can put a smile on someone’s face or engage in an interesting conversation. I have got to know the sales girls at the local food store by face, and our exchange is the warmer for our small acquaintance. I always share a joke and have a chat with the guys in the local wine shop. I often recognise the people who pass me on the street, from having met or known them at some point during my time in the neighbourhood.

In the capital we are always being encouraged to make a difference, to do something good for the world, to ‘think big’. But in order to have any grasp at all of the bigger picture, we must understand the small pieces that hold it together. It is by making a constant positive contribution to the things that are closest to us that we will be able to move on to bigger things. As the proverb goes: charity begins at home. If we learn to live lovingly and peacefully with the people and things in our vicinity, then the rest of the world won’t seem like such a big challenge. If we take notice and make a contribution to what is available locally, we will not only make positive changes to our own lives but touch the lives of many others far more deeply than if we were trying to save the entire world. Our most precious things are at our fingertips.