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Keeping up with the New Joneses

Date

Daisy Dumas

Second-hand buys Click for more photos

New Joneses: second-hand buys

Creator of the New Joneses, Tamara DiMattina, opened the doors to her Melbourne home and office to show off her favourite second hand finds, all sourced from auctions, junk yards, op-shops and garage sales. 

It's Buy Nothing New Month.

That doesn't mean near-starvation or personal hygiene 'experiments'. But it does mean a heightened awareness of that most basic of human behaviours: consumption.

Marking swelling interests in conscientious consumption is The New Joneses campaign. A new standard to live by, perhaps, or simply an urge to live less wastefully, the campaign will see two Melburnians living side-by-side in pre-fab, sustainable, pop-up apartments in Melbourne's Fed Square for five days next week.

The 'New Joneses' are two thirty-somethings, Adam Stayfer, a comedian and a father, and Camilla Jackson, an actress and film-maker.

"They're good sports and they are up for it", says creator of the project, Tamara DiMettina of her willing volunteers – which is lucky as the couple will arrive at their temporary homes wearing only their undies and will carry nothing but bare essentials.

Adam will then dress in clothes from the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Camilla's threads will be sourced solely from the Sacred Heart Mission during the experiment.

The pre-fab apartments, which will be craned into the square, are made by Unitised Building and Elenberg Fraser and have been furnished by auction house, Leonard Joel. Cosy as it sounds, the homes will be open to the public each afternoon.

Anna Grassham, a stylist with Leonard Joel Weekly Antiques and Interiors, told Life & Style that there is so much style, character and soul in the weekly antiques and interiors auctions that it makes her "wonder why anyone would buy new. Second hand pieces come with their own personalities and history. You can't get that with new things."

Food will be provided by Sustainable Table, a not-for-profit that aims to educate about sustainability through stomachs - that's besides a meal cooked by 'waste' guru and BBC Young Chef of the Year, Douglas McMasters, and fresh eggs from the on-site hens.

But it is the heart behind the operation, DiMattina, who lives and breathes the 'think before you buy' mentality: her home and office prove that the second-hand maven walks the walk and talks the talk.

"Pretty much everything we need we can source second-hand and you can source it really stylishly. You can get better quality, better made things second-hand that are built to last”, she says.

She opened her doors to us to show off her favourite second hand finds, all sourced from auctions, junk yards, op-shops and garage sales.

"Buying second hand at Brotherhood of St Laurence and Sacred Heart Mission means I'm extending the life of existing stuff, diverting it from landfill, but also my money is going towards important community programs" said the 33-year-old. "But mostly, I love shopping second hand as I find it's a more interesting way of gathering an eclectic collection."

The Abbotsford, Vic, local has crafted jewellery holders from junk shop metal filing boxes and has filled a bowl from an op-shop with inspirational messages that in turn become Christmas tree decorations.

A child's red tricycle ended up giving its name to one of DiMettina's not-for-profit ventures, while crates provide colourful storage in the office. She says that a "super expensive" sofa was hers for a mere couple of hundred dollars, while a birdcage from a junk store at a market holds another find - a toy pig, named Gilbert.

"Second hand is my default setting. I love buying good quality second hand things. I love the challenge of the scavenger hunt, and the thrill of finding something really fantastic", said DiMattina.

Natalie Baxter of the Brotherhood of St Laurence agrees - op-shopping, she says, is "definitely a different style of shopping, you have to go in with imagination and an open mind."

Let the (sustainable) bargain-hunting commence.

The New Joneses will be living in Fed Square from the 8th to the 12th October.

12 comments so far

  • good in theory but without excessive consumption there won't be a source of second hand goods

    Commenter
    chippy
    Date and time
    October 04, 2012, 2:38PM
    • @chippy: interesting point. I would miss secondhand if people started acting responsibly, but I suspect the knowledge that people were finally "getting it" would be more than ample compensation.

      But until the happy day when people stop the profligate, pointless waste choosing secondhand "by default" will remain a fun, cheap, rewarding, and environmentally responsible way to live.

      Commenter
      Fred
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 3:57PM
    • Disagree, some of the cheap rubbish people buy now will never last to be secondhand. It will only be more affluent homes that discard an old look where we will find new treasures, downsizing or of course estates.
      Some of the crap in stores will be lucky to last a decade, with or without use.

      Commenter
      Not so
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 7:18PM
    • If products didn't have in-built obsolescence, we wouldn't need to buy as much stuff. Older things were better quality and they lasted longer.

      Commenter
      Actually
      Date and time
      October 04, 2012, 11:08PM
  • @Chippy, most of my preferred furniture is "second hand". I prefer to call it vintage, or, better yet, antique. Most of it is better made and much cheaper than the crap that passes for "new" and "stylish" these days, especially my 90 yr old maple sideboard that exactly matches my 90 yr old house, my 40s solid oak desk I've had since my dad handed it down to me 30 years ago, my 6 crazy oak chairs that my mum restored beautifully and had reupholstered: even my kitchen dresser is 80 years old. So are most of my display glassware, my music books, even the pictures on the wall. I prefer to live with things that are built to last, that are beautiful, that are made with wood that we can't source now. I'm not sure I like wearing other people's old clothes, or eating off old, chipped china, but for everything new we have in the house there is something old and beautiful. Although I must confess to having lots and lots of Ikea bookcases to fit all those second hand books I bought! But they belong in my office, where they are neat and clean and not whimsical at all. I doubt whether the things the craftsmen of old were designed to be thrown out. Rather, they were bought for longevity, to hand down, pass on. It's a pity so much stuff made today doesn't seem to have the same quality of craftsmanship. Except wooden things made in Tasmania. Which I can't afford.

    Commenter
    jessplainsong
    Location
    my second hand desk
    Date and time
    October 04, 2012, 11:02PM
    • I agree with chippy. This is great. I haven't bought myself anything new (apart from underwear and shoes) for years. I've always asked myself "How many hours do I have to work to have this thing and is it worth it? How much pollusion was caused producing it?" Made it very easy to walk away from consumer culture. Means lots of money for travel, a lot less hours working and lots more time for friends and family or to curl up with a good book. .

      Commenter
      foxtrot
      Date and time
      October 05, 2012, 6:51AM
      • Chippy has a point but in practice, quality goods will always be in plentiful supply as people die, move house, change their circumstances. Many of the quality secondhand items I bought as a very poor student are still with me and in daily use; others have been passed back to the op shops or given to friends or friends of friends.

        Living secondhand is our way of doing things. Tip shops have great buys. Marvellous things turn up on Gumtree and other trading sites if op shopping fails. Secondhand is not always bought, either. Dumpster diving and hard rubbish are often fun and rewarding! When collecting things from hard rubbish, we often ask the owners' permission if they are at home and surprisingly, they frequently offer us more stuff that they haven't had the time or energy to put out on the kerb.

        It does take a certain amount of practice to become an expert secondhand buyer. You might take a while to find the good sources in your area but once you do, to use a secondhand phrase "You won't look back".

        Commenter
        Mel
        Date and time
        October 05, 2012, 7:54AM
        • I'd love it if this look became the latest thing. I'd suddenly become fashionable!

          Commenter
          BC
          Date and time
          October 05, 2012, 8:28AM
          • I love 2nd hand stuff BUT problem is anything half decent is sometime MORE expensive than new stuff! Therefore it's cheaper for young couples to fill their (rental) home with IKEA rather than trendy retro furniture....

            Commenter
            pink
            Location
            Brisbane
            Date and time
            October 05, 2012, 8:34AM
            • Houses and Vehicles are commonly bought second-hand and there's never any stigma attached to it. It is time that the same social-norms are attributed to other, less pricey, purchases for the home, workplace and, especially gifts!

              Commenter
              Dallas
              Location
              South Brisbane
              Date and time
              October 05, 2012, 9:08AM

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