20 May 2013

Thrifting vs. Consumerism

Last Fall, I was contacted by group of students at Tufts University working on a short film exploring the social impact of consumerism on American culture. After a long wait and without further ado, I am proud to present to you "The Receipt of Happiness", in which you get to hear me pontificate aloud in full accent on the merits of second hand shopping. Thank you Jacob, Robert, Grace, and Doug and congratulations on a job well done.

15 comments:

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Fascinating stuff. Have you read No Impact Man by Colin Beavin? It's a few years old now, and sometimes ponderous, but basically addresses much of what is discussed in this film.

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

stefano44 said...

Really enjoyed the film, I think you did justice and gave credence to 'thrifting'...wwell done all involved.

http://skip-ratting.blogspot.co.uk/

Tobias said...

It was great to see you in "action" at a thrift store!

L.A. Trad said...

Giuseppe,

Great to hear your voice and see your great jackets and Somerville.

joeinTO said...

Fantastic! Giuseppe, you are becoming the go-to-guy on thrifting. We clearly need to have a conversation in North America about consumerism. We have mindful breathing and walking, why not mindful shopping?

Roger v.d. Velde said...

Brilliant film and a message with which I heartily concur. It's always interesting to actually hear and see someone whose words you've read.

Something you said in the film, about how so much new stuff probably shouldn't be made when there's lots of serviceable old stuff around.
Well... that's true from a common sense point of view, but markets and manufacturing are not common sense.

The old stuff won't last forever and the mass manufacturers are not going to go on a moral manufacturing hiatus, mothballing themselves until stocks actually need replenishing.
20 years of no-one making e.g. jackets and that industry will wither to a stump. It's whatever makes the money. People seem to love and support 'the free market' principle, but don't like all the inevitable negative impact.

There's this delusion that it can be an economic free-for-all AND morally responsible. Sadly that's twaddle.

Unknown said...

Great film that makes many good points. However, I found it somewhat ironic that the video concluded with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, a man who died deeply in debt due to his excessive consumer spending. A more apt and certainly more thrifty and Yankee chic example was set by John Adams. He knew the value of a dollar and the virtues of budgeting and wise consumer spending.

Beau said...

Unknown brings up a good point about Jefferson, but I don't think "Yankee chic" should apply to Adams, and of course Adams didn't write that quotation, which I think is still resonant, despite its source. Furthermore, while Jefferson was an exorbitant spender, he had a taste for things that last; fine furnishings, books, Monticello, the Louisiana territory [not his own expense, but certainly a wise purchase]. And while he was an extravagant man who owned slaves, made sometimes desperate passes at married women, and overspent, among other things, he also coined the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" which is the basis of the title of our film. Our point was to show that some people handle mass consumption well and have a healthy attitude toward their desire to consume (i.e. Giuseppe), while others don't. However, the hyperconsumption of those others is essential to our consumer-based economy, but they often consume grossly while touting sustainability. So I think it's not inappropriate to end a film that suggests that irony relating to consumption is pervasive in our lives, with the example of irony you pointed out. Thank you for making me aware of that, and thank you all for watching!

J.I. Rodale said...

My problem with thrifting was that I found myself buying even more clothing. However, I can assure you that the pleasure of donating excess acquisitions is sometimes even greater than the pleasure of acquiring them.

Charles Mansfield said...

Kudos to you my friend! I enjoyed every bit of this film. It is quite an eye opener to.., thrifting, buying second hand clothing will not only save your pockets from acquiring holes...it will also save the planet from the harms of having a lot of unused items. Can I share the vid?

NCJack said...

Excellent presentation, and upon further consideration, I'm glad you didn't get preachy about how thrifting can so often garner much higher quality goods...though it's true, and really hared to avoid pointing out.

Jeremy Osgood said...

Great work on the film! I've been reading your blog for several years now and it is a great to be able to put a face and voice with the words on the screen. Thank you for posting this and sharing this with the rest of us!

Hopefully there will be more videos here and there in the future.

Anonymous said...

This was a very well-made documentary short which I really enjoyed. The feeling I'm almost always left with after a trip to a thrift store is the vast amount of crap America has produced. Our society has created mountains of inferior goods. I'm glad the filmmakers have focused their lens on this problem.

Northmoon said...

Great little film, very interesting points. And I enjoyed seeing you in your 'native habitat' both at home and out thrifting.

Rudy Palos said...

Very cool, thought provoking doc! I really dig your perspective on thrifting. I always feel like I'm 'beating the system' in my own little way with every thrift score.

I've been an avid thrifter for almost two decades (mostly for vinyl) but only recently caught the menswear bug. I recently came across your blog and am looking forward to learning from a seasoned pro. Salud!