Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thrifted Toothpaste Is Not Lovely

Since I live in Korea, I don't do any thrift shopping of the variety one might back home. In Canada, my mom is a Value Village fiend and I occasionally score as the result of stuff she gets - my coffee is made in a French Press she got ages ago and I carted over in my suitcase on my last trip home and she once bought me a ton of black trousers when I couldn't find any here in a couple of sizes, just to see if anything would fit.

However, Korea is all about the thrifting in a totally different way - first off, we all dumpster dive here. When people throw out couches in particular, someone is bound to come on over and take it long before the garbagefolks could ever get around to lifting it. My friend Vanessa once found a throne (likely from a wedding hall) which she had in her apartment for a year and another friend, Pam, had a cardboard cutout of a Korean pop star of some sort and a sombrero that she found on the street.

The main form of thrifting I partake in here is when someone leaves and gets rid of all their stuff, which seems to regularly include a lot of random beauty products. Hence the toothpaste reference in the title - I hate the tube I'm using right now (Arm and Hammer - yuck!), but I can not in good conscience waste resources and buy different toothpaste when I have a perfectly adequate tube here. I also own enough moisturizer of various types to last me an entire year.

I love used books. It's not just the cheaper prices, though hallelujah, but I also like the whole experience. I like digging around to find interesting books and I aesthetically prefer some older books - especially old Penguin ones. A used bookstore is not a place I can allow myself to visit often though, as I have no willpower whatsoever. Interestingly the book buying ban is going alright though - I cheated a tiny bit by buying two books recently but since they were only a dollar each, I don't feel too bad.

I don't so much thrift for environmental reasons - in fact, I am a rather shitty environmentalist here in Korea in terms of actions. I live a fairly environmentally friendly day-to-day life, but not on purpose. Mostly I don't like the wasting of my resources - something finally clicked for me about how many hours of my time went into earning the money it takes to buy some shampoo and while I will happily spend what used to be half of my montly budget back in university in a single night in a bar these days, it annoys me to spend my hard earned won on toothpaste and moisturizer. I don't really get why, but there it is.


jeniferlopaz said...

Brushing my teeth reminds me of having to see a dentist someday, and the thought makes me feel so ill that I can't do it. I also can't stand to see my teeth, or I get flashbacks of past events which led to my dental phobia.

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rose said...

Thrifting refers to the act of shopping at a thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or a shop of a charitable organization, usually with the intent of finding interesting items at a cheap price.A larger philosophy permeates the act of thrifting which celebrates the recycling of formerly-owned items, finding new use and new love for vintage material goods which had been thrown out, and the thrill of imagining what the former life of the item was like.

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Amanda said...

Yeah, I'm not sure Koreans have thrift shops in the North American sense. There is one used furniture shop, but it is in the foreigner neighbourhood. Otherwise, I'm not really aware of that sort of thing here, so I decided to use the term as loosely as it goes.

Don said...

Many of us are being thrifty these days. What once seemed normal now seems extravagant.

I've starting linking to old Mother Earth News money-saving tips on our family blog. Today (here is the tie-in) I linked to an article from the '70s about home-made toothpaste alternatives.

Good luck with the bin diving. Remember the buddy system and have someone there to grab your ankles.