My Mother’s generation, growing up during World War Two, had to learn to make do. Growing up poor, we also needed to save, money. My Mum hasn’t forgotten those times, and remains ‘careful’ with her money to this day. Yesterday she taught me another lesson in economy.
My mum is a car boot, and jumble sale fanatic. As a pensioner, she gets free bus travel, so I often get her to look out for stuff for me. It gives her a good reason to get out of the house. Yesterday I asked her to check whether or not any of the Jewelers shops in the local towns, still sold wind up (non battery) watches. I have not worn a watch for some time now, and dislike digital watches. Many of them are so cheap that people throw them away, instead of replacing the battery. I wanted a watch that didn’t need a battery, but wasn’t sure if anybody sold them any more. My mum listened carefully whilst I explained what I was looking for, why I was looking for it and so on. She then said “I buy old watches from the second hand shops for £1. Do you want me to look for one for you?” It turns out that she has bought non-digital watches for less than it costs to change the battery on a new one. How messed up have we becomeas a society? We pay more for a plastic watch, that will always need replacement batteries, than for a second hand mechanical timepiece, that should last a lifetime. Whoever did the advertising for that must have earnt a fortune. Imagine the advert. “Why spend your money on a watch that will last a lifetime, when you can buy a piece of plastic, that will need you to keep spending more money on it, for the rest of its life?”. Yes, I know, I bought them too, but it’s time for a reality check. Sustainability isn’t just about the big things. It’s about all of the little changes that we all need to make. For me, a new (old) watch is one of them. Secondhand clothes are another. I recently decided to avoid all artificial fibres in my clothing and told my two shopaholics (wife and mother) so, and that I needed some jumpers, preferably wool, but cotton would do. My wife did what she does, and bought me a new woollen jumper, for about £20. She doesn’t always get it!. My mum turned up with two jumpers from a charity shop. Total cost £2.25. Pure wool. I had already bought two for myself, total cost £2.50. One looked like new, and I wear as ‘decent’, but all of the others I wear to work in. I’m wearing one at this moment.
After asking my mum to look out for a watch for me, I tried to tell her that she needed to check that they were still working before she bought one. I needn’t have bothered. She said that when she finds a watch that’s she’s interested in, she winds it up, and then leaves the shop. She then goes back another day, and if the watch still shows the correct time, she’s happy to part with her pound. There’s a lot that we can learn from our mums.