Our Earth Day Interview with Asbury Park Bazaar
I was so lucky to have had the chance to explain Paradox Thrift's vision and purpose in such a long-winded ;) way. Thanks to the writer, Kate Devine, who was thoughtfully engaged in what we had to say, and Asbury Park Bazaar for their purposeful direction.
What does earth-friendly mean to you and your business?
The "paradox" in our name is precisely about our collective relationship to the Earth. On one hand, our society is built upon mass production and disposable consumption. This, we know, is ultimately not sustainable. On the other hand, the world of vintage offers us possibilities. So much beauty and uniqueness are present in the pieces of the past, and there are plenty of them to be found! So I like to think of vintage and thrifting as one answer to this paradox.
I am particularly passionate about collecting vintage jewelry and clothing. The whole process is a thrill, from treasure-hunting awesome finds to watching our customers bring them back to life. I also create funky drop necklaces and earrings out of reinvented jewelry pieces, antique watch parts, old brooches, and all sorts of neat materials. Recycling and upcycling makes a lot of sense in fashion, and it's fun to pass these pieces (and this spirit) onto others.
My thinking on this "paradox" is inspired by my background in sociology, which I teach part-time at a local community college. It is important to me that my business works to promote a better, more sustainable world. So being earth-friendly is the heart of our vision.
What measures do you take to reduce your environmental impact?
First and foremost, I do whatever I can to keep our jewelry and clothing affordable. Making vintage accessible is key if we really want to change the typical approach to shopping. I like to think of it as the quality of vintage at thrift shop prices. This means our customers don't have to feel guilty for spending too much, and we can keep the inventory flowing. It hopefully means, too, that we are promoting lifestyle changes and a real appreciation for thrift and vintage.
Besides the inventory itself, we also use recycled paper for business cards and bags. All of our store displays are upcycled from random household items. We show off our mid-century cocktail rings in backgammon cases and our necklaces hang upon large antique frames, for example. We also find all sorts of great tiny vintage boxes on our travels-- made from paper-mache, wood, ceramic, tin, etc. For a small price, our customers can grab one of these to reduce the need for gift-wrapping their jewelry finds.
Most of all, we communicate our message. We try to encourage a spirit of recycling and thrifting beyond shopping with us. We thank our customers for choosing to shop small and non-corporate, and for supporting the local vendors who are creating amazing products!
It may sound silly, but since it's Earth Day, I am just going to say it: This whole vendor family sometimes feels like a vision of what the world could be, and our customers should know they are the ones who make that possible.
What simple, everyday changes would you encourage consumers to make in an effort to live a more environmentally conscious life?
Thrift! Thrifting is fun, interesting, and the products are not only more economical, but usually better quality too. Second-hand goods have lasted the test of time and were never made to be disposable. That just is not the case with the big box stores these days. As you will probably hear us saying at least once every time we sell, "They don't make it like they used to." We laugh because we say it so much. But it's true!
Because I am constantly treasure-hunting, almost everything I buy for myself (besides food!) is thrifted. Clothing, housewares, decor, office and art supplies, furniture, and yes, jewelry. Living this way gives me a chance to be creative and original everyday. It also is important if we want a better world. About 99% of what Americans buy gets thrown out within six months. Think of the water and the fossil fuels wasted in these production, transport, selling, and disposal processes. Fortunately, as consumers, we can help to slow down that cycle.
Beyond ourselves, though, we also have to think of the most powerful actors in society -- the corporations, planners, and leaders. We have to get involved to demand a future based on renewable energy and the protection of communities and natural resources. Learn about what's happening in Standing Rock in the Dakotas, and about the pipeline projects right here in New Jersey, and how these local struggles are connected to global warming and the climate crisis. We can borrow from each other, shop sustainably, and recycle, but we also have to be committed to solving the root of the problems. So being earth-conscious also means getting informed and involved! Our future depends on it.
LOVE TO THE OTHER VENDORS FEATURED ON EARTH DAY'17 -- read the whole article with their interviews here: http://www.asburyparkbazaar.com/blog/2017/4/17/bazaar-vendors-create-from-the-heart-with-the-earth-in-mind