I participate in Buy Nothing New Month every year, and I decided it was high time to learn a little more about it.
But in an interesting twist of events, I actually met the organiser in person through pure coincidence. Her name is Tamara DiMattina, and I bumped into her shopping at Secondo. Apparently she is a big fan of the store (although who can blame her!).
Tamara very kindly agreed to answer some questions about Buy Nothing New Month, and some of her other projects she has been working on. I present them to you now!
In January 2010 I visited Dharavi, Mumbai’s infamous slum to see where goods from the west go to get recycled.
In March 2010, I visited Antarctica to study climate change, returning to undertake a Fellowship at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership.
In October 2010, I launched the first annual Buy Nothing New Month, a campaign for conscientious and collaborative consumption to encourage us all to think about where our stuff comes from, where it goes, and what are the alternatives.
What are the values that BNNM tries to inspire in others?
To be more community driven, less consumer driven, more thoughtful and less wasteful of our finite resources.
Do you think that BNNM has grown a lot recently? I know that the idea of BNNM has begun expanding into the USA and the Netherlands.
It’s getting bigger all the time as the idea spreads.
Do you think that people are beginning to change their shopping habits in general now? I know that I personally question where all of my clothes come from, but do you think that’s becoming a more main-stream way to shop?
I hope so! I can only go on friends, family and colleagues who overwhelmingly report changing their ways, however, there are still plenty of people who perhaps still haven’t given enough thought to where our stuff comes from and goes, but the message is definitely getting out there.
Do you believe that advertising plays a large part in the consumerism of today’s world?
Of course. It constantly tells us we need to buy this, and now buy that. There are large industries built on selling stuff we don’t need to us.
This campaign is not about not buying anything though. It’s about buying thoughtfully, not wastefully.
Can you tell us a little about the program you just ran in Federation Square called The New Joneses Manifesto?
From October 8-12, two people lived at FedSquare, arriving in undies and bathrobes, bringing only the essentials and a scavenger list.
In the spirit of ’new consumption’, The New Joneses were required to borrow, rent, swap or source everything they needed second hand.
Were there any unforeseen hitches or issues? For example, it can’t have been easy organising for two pop-up apartments to be crane-lifted into Fed Square.
Of course! For one, we were originally running the program in Sydney, but we had the premier and retailers saying it was a terrible idea for the economy. That everyone needed to get out there and shop more. We need to have greater vision. That was very short sighted. We need to look at using our resources smarter, not just churning through more of them without giving thought to the consequences.
Did the ‘New Joneses’, Adam Stayfer and Camilla Jackson, enjoy participating in the project?
You’ll have to ask them! Judging the amount of laughing going on, I think they had a ball.
Do you think the campaign helped to raise public awareness about human consumption?
That was its aim. We were on Sunrise twice, so at least we took the message to over 2 million viewers.
I’m also interested to learn more about the campaign called ‘The Secret Lives of Stuff’. I spoke to a manager at a Hunter Gatherer store recently who was really excited about it. Can you tell us about that and how it’s been going?
This is about helping people rethink existing stuff and think about the beautiful and unique history of second hand goods. (You can read more here.)
And finally, do you have a favourite second-hand store that you frequent?
Yes, I do. I have three, I love Sacred Heart Mission, Brotherhood of St Laurence and Secondo in Toorak!
A big, BIG thanks to Tamara for answering my questions! I hope you all enjoyed the insights as much as I did.