Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sustainable shopping in my green city

Busy busy busy.
Very unusual for me on a Saturday, I'm more often lazy lazy lazy.

But when there is a vintage fair in town, and a focus group to attend, I'm up and off!

First stop; Sheffield's Town Hall for some vintage shopping.

The details of the venue were as interesting as the vintage finery on offer.

Although I must say there were some great bargains to be found, plenty of sellers had sale rails, and I had some birthday money from my mum burning a hole in my pocket.

1970s fabulousness at £5 apiece.
 Floral lace-front maxi dress, St Michael black/gold knit skirt, and green/silver lurex top.
 Can't resist the lure of the lurex. Obviously.

Next stop; Meadowhall.

This shopping centre is not my destination of choice as a rule; in fact, apart from doing my stint as a Christmas temp at Debenhams here, I never, ever go. 

But I was prepared to make an exception for Natalie, who blogs as Pearl at Fashion Pearls of Wisdom; she works at the University of Sheffield in her day job, and was facilitating a series of focus groups about shopping choices.

The research project she and her colleagues are working on is called Transfer; Trading approaches to nurturing sustainable consumption in fashion and energy retail.

The issues we discussed related not only to shopping for clothes/fashion, but also our household energy. These areas of purchasing are being considered together, since "both are things we purchase on a regular basis and their provision impacts on the environment."

Interesting. I had plenty to say about my secondhand shopping habits and why I don't buy fast fashion, but I hadn't considered my choice of energy provider at all, and was amazed to hear how other participants shop around for better deals and change their suppliers reasonably regularly. We were not a group of fanatical shoppers, that's for sure; several people talked about preferring to shop online, some only shopped under duress and disliked the activity, but all of us had an eye for a bargain, we shared environmental and ethical concerns, but this was balanced against price.

I am fascinated by the questions of how and why people shop, particularly for clothes. For leisure and pleasure? Status? Keeping up with trends? Driven by practicality and functionality, or creativity and self-expression? For everyday or occasions? Replacing what has worn out, or buying more than we could possibly need?

And what would encourage us to make more conscientious choices? How will manufacturers/providers, businesses aiming to maximise profit and competitiveness, whose interests are not served by our reduced consumption, engage with an agenda about ethical production and sustainability?

I will follow this research project with interest, I really enjoyed participating in the discussion, and it was great to meet Natalie/Pearl.

(And yes, we were paid for our time. A £30 Meadowhall voucher, which can be spent at any retail outlet in the shopping centre. Rest assured mine won't be spent in Primark!)

An altogether different set of glass-domed buildings were my next destination.

The Botanical Gardens, where I met up with Simon, Owen and Nina (Claud's away for the weekend).

The statue of Pan in the rose garden is always a favourite...

Little cherubs. Or not.

Squirrel whispering...

 and bear hugging.

There was a wedding going on.

Not champagne, sadly; just water in the fountain.

Ninja, Whinger and Ginger.

Me; 1960-70s Hong Kong-made maxi dress - flea market
Sandals - Ebay
Sunglasses and bangles - charity shopped
Pendant - gift

Owen and Nina - t-shirts, shorts and shoes - charity shopped and hand-me-downs

All three of us are dressed in secondhand clothes and proud of it!

And my dress is a perfect example of sustainable fashion; well-made, still going strong after over 40 years, frequently worn and much loved.

 Did you know that Sheffield has more trees per resident than any other city in Europe? And that over 60% of its area is green space?

Our very own emerald city.

Then a leisurely walk home through the beautifully green General Cemetery (the cemetery and the Botanical Gardens both opened in 1836, a little quirk of synchronicity I find ridiculously pleasing)...

 followed by a Chinese takeaway for tea.
 I call that a very good day indeed!

Linking my highly visible and sustainable frock to Patti's Visible Monday gathering.
See you there! 


Mother of Reinvention said...

I love your frock. It is lovely and very current considering its age. I think about fast fashion a lot too. I used to buy lots of clothes when I was younger (and thinner) but now I only buy smart, new stuff for work and even then only if I have to. Fashion is so fast now it has become a parody of its superficial self. What is in style seems to change on a daily basis with people urged to consume even if they have go get into debt to do so and shops like Primark make it easy to buy clothes that are so cheap they are virtually "throw away" and probably wouldn't last more than a couple of washes anyway. My Mum always says that when she was younger people had so little money that clothes were a big deal and people looked after them. Jumpers were ripped down and reused for the wool and adults coats were made into children's wear. Also comparatively they cost a lot more than stuff today but were of much high quality materials. Maybe that's why your dress is still wearable after 40 years and still going strong? Xxxx

Olga Rani said...

So many beautiful and interesting photographs today! Thanks for the glimpse into your green town, Curtise. That was an interesting topic of the discussion that you attended. I too often wonder how people chose what to wear.

Señora Allnut said...

lovely busy day, enjoying your city ol'style buildings, lots of green and lots of different experiences!. Very interesting to know something about people's shopping habits. I like to go window-shopping, (even when rarely buy anything) because our little town has still its commercial life in the central streets, so it's easy to walk around!

Patti said...

A very, very good day from the looks of it - lovely company, thoughtful conversations and loads of greenery, and bears. We are on a water-saving crusade at our house right now - not just to save $$, but in awareness of how dry our country is getting. We do still water the small garden, because beauty is important! You and the children look wonderful. xoxo

Pennyblossoms said...

Yay! You met Pearl!
I have a love/hate with 2nd-hand. In the days before 'vintage' it was what I could afford. Add to that my sewing skills I was onto a winner. But now I rather like buying something 'new' plus being so overweight there isn't a lot of choice. If I could still fit my 5p navy acrylic rollneck jumper that I bought in about 1977(!), I would. But it is an excellent idea for offspring and it is so much fun, never knowing what you may unearth.
Sheffield greenery looks fantastic. Love a good cemetery! Loulou does set up in some wonderful buildings doesn't it?
Adore the trio photo and the captioning!
Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous pictures!! Must be a wonderful place for a wedding.
I'd love to get paid for my shopping opinions and learning what others do and how they function and why. Yesterday my husband and I were just talking about people and buying clothing, consumerism in general, etc...I thought maybe people buy so much clothing because of the media and ads telling them they need to buy more, go to the mall, etc...But after reading this and thinking about it more I just think humans are bored easily and need to entertain themselves with something fresh and new to make themselves feel good. After all, life is hard. Pleasures make the ride more fun!

OP SHOP MAMA said...

Great frock!
Yip that's a topic dear to my heart, sustainable fashion.. If there was ONE thing I would like people to get from my silly blog it would be that message.
Also - add REPAIR onto Reduce Reuse Recycle. That doesn't happen enough in our throwaway society... (I feel a blog post coming on!!)

mispapelicos said...

That dress is a dream, dear Curtise,such a fabulous post. I felt in England while reading and looking at the pics.
You children are soooooooo you, beautiful

Asparagus Pea said...

I would like to buy all my clothes in Copenhagen or New York where I am a woman of average height. Carhartt work trousers 32" inside leg - that would be Medium Madam. i've never been Medium in my life! Not very sustainable I know but in my defence I wear things until they drop off me in rags. Still wearing blundstone boots every day that I bought over 10 years ago. Horses for courses huh? xxx

Unknown said...

You make a great representative of our second hand community! Showing off such a beautiful dress too! I would love to hug that bear by the way! :)

Helga said...

Such a magnificent town hall! Ours is a bit of a 70's monstrosity, but I do like and hope it can be saved.
Red and blue DIVOON! I'd be hugging you AND the bear...quite firmly......
Love! XXX

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful day and it's very interesting hearing about the focus group and how that went. You know we will all wonder what you'll by with you gift voucher/card. You look incredibly striking in your red and blue maxi, just beautiful.

Diane said...

I love that frock! I've kept my eye open for you all weekend at Tramlines but can see now that you have been entertaining yourself elsewhere! I love the Botanical gardens - we nearly called in yesterday too! xxxxxx

Kylie said...

There is something very special about that bear.

Angels have Red Hair said...

Ninja, Whinger and Ginger ... LOL
PS You actually remind me of Ginger in Gilligans Island ... did you watch it back in the day??

Goody said...

I might be persuaded to purchase new clothing were it not made so badly. The children look very up-to-date in their clothing, I wouldn't have known it was second leg.

That was very polite of you not to crash the wedding. The bear frightens me a bit, but anything that can chew on your head ought to instill some sort of fear.

Lurex. Synthetic of the gods. It is.

Val said...

What a lovely post - I loved every bit of it, especially the little bronze frog, and your Ninja, Whinger and Ginger pic!

Sue said...

I so enjoy when you take photos of the lovely places and buildings you have been to. You never disappoint me. All magnificent and down right gorgeous. Bit like your family, Ninja, Whinger, and Ginger!! Gorgeous!

Veshoevius said...

That is a great dress! Love the print. Just goes to show something with good design really does stand the test of time. Thanks for sharing the forum discussion - I didn't realise it was the one Pearl was organising!

bahnwärterin said...

very busy saturday!
but "good stress" like we say here - great clothes found for little money, a talk about sustainability, and a stroll with the family - all in the great, beautiful environment of sheffield! townhall, park, cemetery are gorgeous 19.cent. locations. the pan with all the little companions are to cute to tell!
when we bought the house 3 years ago we signed a contract with an eco power company. and we save water by only using rain water for the garden. organic waste goes to our compost, glass and packaging for recycling. once started it´s easy :-)
happy week for you! xxxx

The Small Fabric Of My Life said...

Great pictures. I didn't realise that about the trees and Sheffield.
The shopping research sounds fascinating.
Hope you enjoy the summer hols this week.

Krista said...

Here you are wearing my favorite dress again:). You are a gorgeous woman Curtise! I think it's cool you participated in this control group I'd be all over it too, I find it interesting. For the record I shop second first and foremost because it's fun, second because it's good for our world, what??? :).

Sheffield is so green and the botanical gardens gave me chills it looks like something out of an old movie and the sky so blue. I think the statue of Pan is just as interesting as I imagine he is. I wish to see the UK in the summer now, how exceptional she looks bathed in sun!
Love you honey!

Vintage Bird Girl said...

What gorgeous pics...I love seeing snippets of your city. It looks so pretty to me. And you look gloriously stunning in that frock. 40 years on and she's still a keeper. Xx

Amber of Butane Anvil said...

Bear hugs back at you, dear Curtise! Birthday money from mum, that's the best. :) I'm so glad the focus group had fascinating discussion, and envy you Natalie both for having the chance to meet. Lovely to close the day with the gardens and all the green, and your dear ones, and takeaway too. xoxo

Unknown said...

Great pics of your lovely town- I do enjoy it all again and again - Interesting focus groups, it's very educational and plus you you met a lovely blogger !
Montreal is suppose to be green, we are big on recycling, lots of green spaces but i guess people could make an extra effort - I confess i shop a lot, everywhere, retail and second hand - i get bored i guess with what i have and i have a lot but i give it away to charity, friends and family -

Take care!



Beth Waltz said...

The vibrant colors of your dress radiate *energy*energy*energy, Curtise. What an appropriate choice for a busy*busy*busy day that included a thoughtful regard of why one chooses to wear what, and when and why!

I'm green with envy of your Green City. Asphalt for parking is the preferred ground covering hereabouts, a sort of black hole into which government and businesses pour money for sealing, striping, and snow-plowing.

Jessica Jannenga said...

Lovely pictures, it looks like such a great time. Love the flowers. The dress looks stunning on you. Orange is one of my fav colors and this combo of oranges and blues with the print is perfect!
from the link up, jess
please stop by

Unknown said...

just popping in to say hello lovely its been a while. Good to see you looking as gorgeous as ever. Your children are growing up so fast bless them. You always take lovely photo's the garden look beautiful and I love the bear statue :-) dee xx

Forest City Fashionista said...

That was a splendid day, and you are radiant in my favourite dress.
The focus group research does sound quite interesting. I have to agree with the commenter that said people get bored easily, and go shopping for something to do. I think as a whole, we are a society that has been conditioned to believe that we always need something new, whether it's a car, or a dress. I tend to browse the secondhand stores to see if there are any treasures. It's the thrill of the hunt, as I certainly don't need any more clothes.

Sheffield is very green, and I would enjoy a stroll through the Botanical Gardens, and the cemetery with the Ninja, the Whinger and the Ginger.

Bobbi said...

Your city is so beautiful! The old buildings and gorgeous trees...amazing.
You rock that dress! Your daughter looks so much like you. Will you be saving your favorite clothes for them when they're bigger?

Vix said...

I dive on Made In Hong Kong clothes - my Dad never allowed us to have toys with that label when we were little as it called it "cheap rubbish". How wrong he was, that frock's a beauty and still going strong after 40 years, how many Primark dresses will be able to boast that?
How lovely to finally meet Pearl and what an interesting topic. Jon's the biggest swapper in the world, he's always changing energy companies and doing deals.
Love the stroll around Sheffield (sweet memories) and the fabulous sculptures. What a fascinating fact about the trees.
Love you! xxxxx

Annie said...

Great post Curtise. You look fab, and Sheffield looks amazing, really gutted I missed the meet up.
Hope to catch up with you and Vix over the Summer. Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine.

Love, Annie xxx

Jayne H said...

Great photos of Sheffield, love the Botanical Gardens. Sounds like a good day all round and you came out £30 up, can't be bad xx

Shawna McComber said...

What lovely photos you take! I do love going on these little trips with you. Sheffield looks like a really lovely city and a very impressive town hall. Ours would be a little wooden shack. Well not quite, but almost!

Your wee ones are so adorable and look so much like you. Ninja, Whinger and Ginger sound like perfect names for a trio of kittens. Perhaps they are the ones who lost their mittens.

The focus group sounds really interesting. I would think that food purchases would tie into this topic well too. Here there is much talk of the 100 mile diet, which is to eat only things grown/raised locally and locally is defined as within 100 miles. There are so many ethical and environmental issues to consider but price is always going to be a factor for many of us.Sometimes one has to choose one feature over another, say organically grown over local or vice versa.

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts, photos and the tales of your wonderful Saturday!

Miss Magpie said...

The pictures of the town hall bring back good memories :)
Talking of memories I haven't been to Meadowhall in donkey's years is that cheesy 1950's style diner still there?

Oh I love that bear statue so much I want to cry (and then steal him for my garden.)

Miss Magpie said...

Oh and your dress, when I've seen it before on your blog I couldn't think what it reminded me off, now it's come back to me it was apiece of artwork I did at college for my final exam! I'll have to see if I still have it and take a pic.

Natalia Lialina said...

I always enjoy your days out! Sounds funny, but true! :) Because you always make it sound interesting - bits of information, your favorite places, and gorgeous photos. The town hall is truly a beautiful example of architecture! And no, of course I didn't know how green your town is (hello from our Emerald City - the official Seattle's nick name, though I don't hear people actually use it in real life :). The botanical garden is gorgeous - just the way I imagine England from the endless movies, books and photos... So good to see you with your little ones too! I especially enjoyed the photo of the three of you and the bear hug! And this vibrant, vivacious dress is every time a joy to see, like a good old friend. Hugs!

Suzanne said...

What an interesting opportunity to participate in the focus group.

I do think we all shop for different reasons. I remember when I was a kid we would only go shopping if we actually needed to buy something specific that my Grandma couldn't make for us. Otherwise we got most of our clothes handmade by Grandma. And yeah...I hated always wearing the exact same thing as my sister, since that saved my Grandma from buying another pattern or different fabric. Now I look back on those days and realize just how fortunate we were.


silvergirl said...

How fabulous does the Botanical Garden look
Love to visit places like that

Caroline said...

I saw that focus group but thought it was too far away. If I'd known you and Pearl were going to be there I would've viewed it differently!

Eeeww, Primark. My sewing teacher used to say that it looked like it was made in Primark whenever anyone made a mistake.

Love a bit of Lurex!


Peaches McGinty said...

Sheffield is beautiful, I adored it all and your flaming gorgeous Town Hall, I love how accessible it is to everyone, I have never gone to ours (I have threatened to run in and gatecrash something, haven't yet) The discussion sounds very interesting and important too, I'm not a fan of disposable fashion and excess Supermarket packaging - Love lurex though, love it! your beauties are awesome and your beautiful dress, which will still be going years from now, things like that I love too - and the excellent pics of Ninja, Whinger and Ginger, cool, cool names! x x x

Mrs Bertimus said...

What an interesting focus group and what a perfect day! X

Unknown said...

I loved this post, so much to see and take in. But, by far my favourite thing has to be the Pan Statue, simply beautiful! x

freckleface said...

We've been there! I've seen that dress! Yep, I'm all over this post. Love that new frock - what a marvellous bargain that was. Your panel discussion does sound interesting and thought-provoking. Ninja, whinger and ginger is brilliant, so funny. Only you could come up with that. I bet that rose garden smelled heavenly. Bless your little squirrel whisperer and bear hugger, they're adorable. Xxxxxxx

Young at Heart said...

What fun.... used to love going to the botanical gardens when I lived in New York..... maybe I should get me to Kew!!

Unknown said...

I cannot say how much I adore this dress on you. Maybe my new favorite on you?
Great seminar material! Will follow your interest on this issue with my own!
You live in paradise so far as I'm concerned. The grass is always greener, of course, but with good reason.
Lovely you, lovely kids, lovely photos!
I'm sad that I haven't yet finished my threatened packet for you and the fam. One of these days ... I hope before the end of the year?
I slog along, but am so glad to see you!

Becky said...

Gorgeous dress!! That statue of Pan is beautiful. You and the kids are just perfect. I love to shop. In person, online... Wherever. But, I am like you and feel that sustainability is our only option. I really feel like we are going to see a massive second hand shopping revolution soon.

Trees said...

I love sustainable shopping now, but really I didn't begin to think of the ethics of it until recently. Mostly I just love clothes from the 60s/70s and find modern clothes really very boring! But the more you learn about WHO is actually making you clothes and the environmental impact of buying something that only lasts a few months has, you begin to question what exactly you are contributing too! A LOT of my clothes are older than I am and show no signs of giving up and that's pretty awesome. On to other things, that maxi is incredible on you - I love it. Also you live in such a pretty city! I want to visit the gardens and hang out with squirrels too (we don't have squirrels in NZ - so I am kind of fascinated by them)

Mimi and Tilly said...

I've thoroughly enjoyed catching up on your blog posts, and following your sustainable/vintage/charity shopped style. You always look stunning. My wardrobe of clothes are all secondhand/charity shopped too. It's like treasure-hunting for me! Have a beautiful weekend Curtise. Sending a big hug. Xx