I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

17 July 2013

Purchasing ethics

I wanted to write today just a bit about purchasing ethics. I was spurred on last year after finding out what kind of slavery footprint I have to examine my purchasing power a bit more closely.

The problem is, where I live, there are not many second hand shops, so I feel a bit more conscious about this than if I had more second hand and thrift stores at my disposal to simply change over half of our household purchases over to that.

We're now purchasing more organic, fair trade items as far as our food goes, but clothing is problematic due to our financial constraints and my husband and my clothing size. However, I can look out for accessories, books and music; as well as things for our children in second hand stores.

Having grown up on the lower end of middle class, and the higher end of lower class; I've grown to be quite thrifty and frugal with our funds. I'm a DIY-er in some respects, but I don't know how to sew really and haven't yet become friends with my new sewing machine. (I'm hoping this will change!)

I know how to keep meals inexpensive when it comes to a gluten free diet and an allergen free diet; and I know how to do some canning. I'm just waiting for an opportunity to get a single eye stove and a pressure canner and I can lower my purchasing of canned items.

I purchase as locally as possible, and am trying to get over my introversion so I can make it out to the farmer's market that is on every Friday. (Honestly, I do not know what I am afraid of, it's not like the farmers bite... Maybe I'm worried about my language skills? No idea.)

I've begun canning the fruit that grows in our yard (Cherries, Currants, Elderberries), and I'm looking to can other seasonal fruits, since I need a pressure canner to safely can vegetables.

I've been talking with others via twitter and forums as to where I can find more ethical clothing shops since I only know of 4 (at the moment) thrift stores, two of which are charity based.

I'd started helping someone gather information on ethical purchases in Germany and Europe. It's been difficult to find info on stores that cater to fair trade that are not online only or high-end stores. (far out of our price range)

This is somewhat depressing as my husband's employer is in planned bankrupcy and just now coming out of that, and he overheard that the parent company is now going into planned bankrupcy for restructuring reasons, and will be putting in some sort of savings plan to keep this from happening again. Honestly, this puts me in a bit of a panic and assures me that as soon as the kids are regularly back in kindergarten, I need to get myself a job, or two.   I also need to put my knowledge in English to work and probably begin tutoring more than my only student.  I need to market my skills online with my Tzitzit and my blogging, and I need to see about going back into making Judaic cross-stitch and selling bookmarks and challah covers. (Maybe? Is there interest in that still with the advent of e-readers, or are Germans and myself the lone hold-outs?)

I've begun researching where we can afford to (and who caters to our clothing sizes) shop, and I recently found our local Oxfam shops in Darmstadt. I just found out that there are a couple in Frankfurt am Main that have a wider selection, so I plan on making a trip up there as soon as possible. I haven't been in Frankfurt in a couple of years other than driving through due to how stressed I get when I go into the city due to the intense traffic there.

In addition to these options, I found a second hand store in Grießheim, which I blogged about recently here. It doesn't often have clothing or shoes in our sizes, but it did have other things of interest. (I'm planning on returning this week) There is a second hand children's store in Heppenheim, but they do not have much in the larger children's sizes. They were a G-dsend when the kids were much smaller, and I was able to sell some of my name-brand children's clothing articles through them.

We do shop the local children's flea markets, but I'm finding that if you want anything in the larger children's sizes, you need to be there as soon as the doors open. There isn't much of a selection, which is really sad.

I was rather upset in April when  I began researching due to our financial situation. I'm trying to downsize (Not being a minimalist, just trying to fit us in our house!), and I'm trying to source things second hand through Quoka when we have a need. What we can't re-sell through Quoka, we will be donating to Oxfam. We can't afford to try and sell through the Trödelmarkt in Griesheim.

Most of my books are second hand through or free kindle books as of late. Only if I cannot source my book (usually religious - mostly Messianic or Jewish) second hand, will I purchase it new. The real exception to that rule are the newer books out by religious bloggers that I like reading. (Carolyn Custis James or Pam Hogeweide for example, as my list is growing by leaps and bounds!)

The resources I was able to find for ethical purchasing (outside of second hand/charity shops) in Germany are as follows: They have an English portal as well.
Suits for women and men  (Austrian) (Austrian) (Germany, UK, France)  <--- so far the only one we can afford.

Articles about ethical clothing choices:
Green Glamour (German Article) 
Ethische Mode ist in - Das Design muss stimmen (German article)
Öko-soziale Mode und Online-Shops für Fairtrade & Bio Kleidung
The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes Where do your Target bargains go when you get tired of them?
Nachhaltige Mode (German Article)
Who do ya think made your clothes?
How to Buy Ethical Fashion on A Budget

I know, that's like, a poop-ton of links. But, I figure there must be others out there that are also new to Germany and looking for ethical means of shopping!

I'd gone week before last and gotten myself a hat, books and music, accessories at our local Oxfam Shop. I was able to purchase a birthday present and a card with money towards a child's school books, and I thoroughly enjoyed both stores! I highly recommend stopping by if you're ever in the city. The workers in both shops were extremely nice and they didn't mind at all that I browsed every nook and cranny.  I was pumped!
The Oxfam Bookstore in the center of Darmstadt has a wide selection of CDs, Cassettes and LPs as well as books and audio books. I was surprised to find 5 shelves of books in English, and then a shelf of books in other foreign languages.

The selection of religious books and art books was actually surprising! I wasn't able to afford any of the art books on that day, but I saw that there was going to be a huge sidewalk book sale where the books would be sold per centimeter. I made sure to get one of the slips of paper advertizing this sale and take it along to ask my father and mother in law if they wanted to get some "new" books to read since they had to cull their bookshelves when they moved from their house into an apartment.

 The Oxfam shop that is on the Rheinstraße in Darmstadt is a bit on the small size, but they've got it jam-packed with goodies. Clothing, accessories, shoes, books, toys, craft supplies - you name it, they have it. If they don't have it, check the book store on the Schulstraße.

Here's what we netted on our first visit to Oxfam:

English and German Books, Jewelry, sacks, CDs from Oxfam

Our local Oxfam book store had a book sale on their excess books this past Saturday. Usually, I try to not do any purchasing on Saturdays - but this was for charity and we've been unable to give to charity until now. Knowing where this cash is going, I could justify spending 13€ on books to help fund projects that would enable people around the world to pull themselves out of poverty.

We also made a trip down to our two local Takko shops and I was able to find a gift for a friend (I did not take a photo of it because it needed to get out in the mail!) and I was able to find jewelry, shoes AND clothing for myself. (Clothing! for me!!) As well as clothing for my kids. All in all, I think we spent over 100€ at Takko.

Here's most of the haul of what I got for myself. I've since worn several (4?) striped shirt and a wonderful poly asymmetrical shirt that makes me look a teeny bit thinner, and they're currently hanging outside on the line.

I'd take a photo of what we got for the boys, but it's also already been worn and in the wash.

As you can see, Takko has some wonderful accessories and I have a penchant for the hippie/boho type look. I got the pink sandals because - well, they're pink and high heel sandals and all of my shoes except for two pair are still in the USA. (I've lived here how long and have most of my things still at my parent's?)

Most of the shirts I got are thin "muscle" shirts, but I figured I could layer when I leave the house.   The striped shirt in the front under the feathers is just a touch too small, but can be worn as an open layered shirt for now, or packed away for later.

So, anyway, we had the flyer for the Oxfam Bookstore sale last Saturday and my father in law agreed to tag along with me.

It was actually quite comical getting there. I'd taken my phone and used google maps to walk us from underground parking there, and it lost us. Not once, but twice! We had to stop and ask for directions. We were close, but it looked like the navigation system had switched at one point from walking distance to driving.  (I really need to figure out this phone.)

I browsed almost every single box (I had to stop towards the last two) and didn't go inside. I should have, but my father in law had made his selection and was worried about the selection I was making as he watched it get higher and higher and higher.

I had to laugh, as I was looking not only for books for myself, but for the children and my husband, as well as anything I could find for my sibling that is trying to further their German and other language studies.

I'd been asked by my oldest son about art recently, and I've been enjoying posts by Susanne Ramharter on Google+. She posts mainly art, and since I'd not be able to go to university to study art, and we were really in the lower end of middle class growing up; I'd never been able to really appreciate and learn about art until recently.    So, as soon as I saw several books on religious art, renaissance art and classic German art - I had to snap it up. I'm only paying 40c per centimeter? I'll take everything I can carry, thank you!!

I had a hard time convincing my father in law that I really was fine and we could carry it (I could carry it!) and that I was also looking for some interesting fiction and such for myself.

Here's what I ended up with:

As you can see, I netted eleven art books, three books for children, an optical illusion book for my husband (and technically for the kids as well), a cookbook, a history book about Latin America, an audio book by one of the Bronté sisters, a fiction book, a museum guide (from the mid 90s, but it should be ok - I have the internet to help ensure places are where they say in the book and the new prices. I didn't know we had HALF of these museums in the Frankfurt am Main area); and an English-German book which should prove helpful in learning and also in teaching!

In addition to this, I had a wonderful time with my father in law, and we were able to make a stop at Starbucks, and at Wolle Rödel for my sister.

Very Berry infused Tea,
Coffee Frapuccino with two pumps of vanilla and whipped cream
Magnet: Faith, Love, Knitting
Round knitting needles in 3.50mm size

I'm going to be trying to do my best with second hand purchases from here on out, and ethical clothing as well. I don't simply wish to remove my slavery footprint on the world, but help people have work that is ethical towards them and their families, as well as ensuring that we are able to give to charities out of the little bit of our wealth. It may not look like wealth to us, but, in some fashion it is more than many others have.

All this to say, my haul is not about bragging that I got a poop-ton of stuff, but that I am finding not only is it enjoyable to do something like this, one can also be blessed while blessing others; and enjoy time spent with loved ones.

If you've been thinking of, or working at ethical shopping, I would love to hear from you. Please just drop a comment down below or send me an email!

1 comment:

  1. That's quite the haul! I was just thrifting today and got a large collection of books and a new skirt! Comment club