Grandma Chic: Why Buying Vintage Is So Important
I love old crap.
I seriously do. I blame my parents, who insisted I grow up without being glued television. That meant we had a rotary dial television from the 1970s complete with rabbit ears until well into the early 2000s, and I had nothing to watch but the original Star Wars movies on VHS and reruns of Bonanza.
This is basically the starter kit for "How to Get Bullied". Middle school was rough, y'all.
But there was something sweet about that ancient TV, and there is something inspiring about my mother's refusal to get rid of something if it still functions.
My mom has my grandmother's pukey green mixer from the 1950s, and it not only works but it is AMAZING. I made an upside down cake with it when I was in Florida.
Why do we throw things out, or get rid of them if they still work?
Because we live in a consumerist society. You cannot look something up on your phone, watch a television show, or drive down the highway without someone advertising to you, whether through product placement or billboards.
We, as Americans, are expertly trained to consume without guilt or questioning. Rarely do we stop to consider a purchase beyond price.
What's wrong with buying something? A lot. Click that link for staggering numbers about our consumption, but also I strongly advise checking out Chris Jordan's series, Running the Numbers, a series of photo-mosaics that tries to literalize the number of items consumed daily/yearly. This image depicts the number of cell phones discarded each day in the US alone.
Spoiler alert: that number is 426,000. I myself have had 3 in the last 18 months, due to an ongoing battle with toilets and gravity. I'm not happy about it, but I also am not about to cuddle up to a pee phone.
But, pee-saturated phones aside, this planet is drowning in stuff. It's everywhere. Almost everything you want - not need, and there is a difference - likely already exists and has been discarded in some form.
I read a book on this topic years ago, and since then I've spent a lot of time thinking about the nature of our "stuff", so naturally when I decided to make a significant push to live a greener life, I committed to buying less new things.
I committed to trying to leave the consumer stream.
Is this possible? No. Of course not. It's important to be a realist, or you'll burn out. Used underwear or toothbrushes are not a thing - especially not if you hope to have friends and/or date.
But I also have no reason to impulse buy a new lamp because I just feel like it and the store marketed it well. The matching ones I got at Habitat for Humanity 5 years ago for $10 are still in perfect condition. I don't need new lamps, I don't particularly want them. I just have an impulse to buy them.
(Do I still drool when I walk by the windows of West Elm? You bet. Is my first instinct to whip out a debit card when I see those fake geode coasters with the bougie gold edges? YES. Y'all those things are glittery rocks and I am a walking trash panda. Resisting consumerism takes effort, friends.)
But vintage things are amazing, and guess what? They're still just THINGS.
Stop holding them precious. Start using them.
Every item in this post is something I inherited from a grandparent or bought at an antique store and use regularly. And I love them.
I love the history.
These objects have already traveled through time. And I love their story and uniqueness.
You know the minute you look at that absurd toucan pitcher that it's not something William Sonoma barfed up last week. And what a conversation piece!
I love knowing that these things I'm using and enjoying so much represent one less new purchase in the supply and demand chain.
Most of all, I love that every time I use these things, I wonder about who used them before me. I wonder what life was like then, I wonder what meals were shared and what memories were made using these same things. I think about my place in the fabric of time, and that, to me, is worth so much more than anything World Market has to offer.
Buying one lone vintage water pitcher is not an epic choice.
But the awareness and shifting mentality it represents is crucial.
What are your favorite vintage pieces? Tell me about them in the comments below!