Fully Updated Edition of The Inspired Shopper Now Available!

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The latest edition of The Inspired Shopper is now available! If you haven't bought it already, this is a great time to buy. You can buy it cheaply and easily on the Amazon website. At only $2.99 it's an absolute steal. I'll keep it at this price for the time being, but I may put it back to its original price, $5.99, in the future.

If ethical shopping, decluttering, thrifting and saving money are the theory, then Inspired Shopping is the practice. Whatever the changes you want to make to the way you buy, they start with a willingness to slow down and listen to yourself, and an openness to the unexpected. This mindset is what Inspired Shopping can help you achieve.

This brand new edition contains more advice for conscious shoppers than ever before. It fully incorporates the smartphone and internet as part of Inspired Shopping. There's more  information on making the shift to ethical shopping and ethical fashion on a budget, and loads of up-to-the-minute resources for thrifty, frugal and fair shopping. There's also commonsense advice on:

saving money
knowing your consumer rights
shopping safely on the internet
giving inspired gifts
buying an appliance, car and even a house
supermarket shopping
shopping with children, friends and your partner
shopping for those with 'too much' money.

If you've bought earlier editions of The Inspired Shopper, I'm happy to send you a mobi file (ie suitable for the Kindle) of the latest version. Just drop me a line at caetem@yahoo.com and I'll explain how to provide verification.

Not quite sure but intrigued? Here's some more info about what's in the book and how to buy it.

Until next time!
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Sublime Swapping - Giving a New Lease of Life to Fashion and Just About Everything Else


21 January is World Swap Day! It's the perfect time to look at all the many ways you can experience the delights and money-saving benefits of swapping, whether on or off line.

An estimated $43 billion worth of stuff is stashed away across Australia alone. Swapping goods is a growing trend, as more and more consumers seek a second life for their unwanted goods while reducing both their carbon footprint and their budgets. 

So popular is swapping that, along with lending, bartering, gifting and sharing, it’s been recognised as a key part of a growing trend – collaborative consumption, a sea change in not only what we consume, but how we consume.

But it's in the area of fashion that swapping is really hitting its stride. Clothes-swapping events take place regularly in cities across the globe, and international websites devoted to the online thread swap make it easy to swap your clothes with other budget fashionistas.

Sartorial swapping
We get sick of our clothes, no matter how much we love them. Swapping is a wonderful way to experience the novelty that new clothes offer without damaging your wallet or adding to the world’s landfills or your carbon footprint. It’s also great for items that you’ll only need for a certain amount of time, like children’s clothes.

In Australia, the Clothing Exchange runs regular swap meets in all states except Tasmania, while details of UK events can be found on the Swishing website. The Swapaholics team host regular fashion-swapping events in the USA. The Swapaholics website includes a list of swapping groups across the US and internationally, and the team maintain a directory of swapping events across the world at http://events.swap.com.

Many options are available if you'd prefer to do your swapping via the internet. swapstyle.com is an international website for swapping fashion items that includes a forum. Thread Swap is an Australian website that enables you to swap your unwanted clothing for credits that you then use to ‘buy’ clothes online. Swapkidsclothes.com.au is an Australian service that allows members to exchange unwanted children’s clothes for points that can then be used to select clothes from the range; there are many similar websites for swapping children’s clothes.

Other items
The types of non-clothes items that can be swapped are limited only by your imagination. Sites that enable you to swap all kinds of items easily and safely include SwapAce.com, Swap.com and Swap Australia. The UK boasts a book-swapping site, ReadItSwapIt. The Australian trading site Gumtree has a ‘Freebies’ section, as well as a section where people offer to swap goods for specific items – one user offered a three-month-old queen-sized mattress in return for ‘something interesting’.

Republic of Everyone, an Australian green marketing company, has created The Great Gift SwApp, an app that allows users to swap their unwanted presents for something they really want. This app is built in Facebook, so you need to have a Facebook account to use it.

Hold your own swap party
Swapping with your friends is a great way to enjoy the benefits of swapping! Swap unwanted clothes and other goods with one or two friends with similar tastes, or even hold your own event. Holding a swap party at home is an easy and fun way to make good use of all those unwanted goods cluttering up your cupboards. Fashion, baby clothes, gifts, and surplus food are just some of the things you can swap at a swap party.

The freedom of freecycling
Freecycling is a similar idea to swapping without the expectation of getting something in return, in the short term at least. The Freecycle Network is a worldwide network of groups whose members offer each other free goods that they no longer need themselves – there may be a group based in your town or city. The ReUseIt Network is based on a similar idea, but also offers an online chat group, support to set up local groups and an emphasis on conservation and recycling. (Check websites for information on your nearest Freecycle or ReUseIt group.) Ziilch is a website that enables people to give away items they no longer need.d and find free stuff

The fun of connecting locally
Ever wished your next door neighbour had a brushcutter you could borrow? The popularity of websites that connect people living near each other who want to borrow, lend or rent goods is also growing. Open Shed is an Australian website that enables owners of appliances and other goods to rent them out to people living in their local area. Streetbank is a UK website that allows users to borrow and lend goods in their local area and get to know their neighbours. Share Some Sugar is a US website that encourages neighbours to connect in order to lend, borrow or rent goods from each other. There are many websites like this; do a Google search to find sites that operate in your local area. Some of these sites are profit making, some aren't - check out the terms and conditions on the website. 

Hope you enjoy your swapping adventures.

Until next time!

If you enjoyed this blog entry, you might also like Buried Treasure, Hidden Duds - What Lurks in Your Wardrobe?

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How to Carry Out Your Green and Ethical New Year's Resolutions

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Picture: sheknows.com

Now that 2012's finally arrived, many of us are trying to put our new year's resolutions into practice. Some of you may have resolved to make the switch to ethical shopping this year, or perhaps you're planning to overhaul your entire lifestyle and go green.

Making wholesale changes in shopping and lifestyle habits is a challenge. At first shopping ethically may be more time consuming, not to mention confusing, than conventional shopping. Facing the array of choices in the egg department of your local supermarket, from accredited free range to grain-fed and barn laid, could make your head spin.

Luckily there’s plenty of support and information out there. The internet is bursting with websites, blogs and forums that offer valuable guidance. Here are some great tips to help you make the switch, whether you’re planning to change the way you shop or want to make your entire lifestyle more sustainable.

* Give yourself time to adjust. If you try to make too many changes at once you may become discouraged. Start with the easiest changes and make progressively more challenging adjustments as your confidence grows. Two small shopping examples: Revlon is one of the larger cosmetics companies that doesn't test its products on animals; Bardot, Veronica Maine and Cue are Australian fashion brands that, while they lack green credentials, have been accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Easy green changes to make straight away include putting a 'no junk mail' sign on your mailbox, arranging to hire a green waste bin from your local council, and investigating whether your energy company provides green energy.

Set goals. This is a great way to motivate yourself. Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Reward yourself for achieving your goals.

* Plan ahead.  Expect things to take longer, especially at first. If you’ve decided to start riding your bike to work, it may take a while to figure out the quickest way and to get your morning routine sorted; if you’ve decided to catch public transport to the food market, you’ll probably need to allocate more time. You may also have to put some thought into how you’ll shop, eg remembering to bring along your own carry bags, or buying equipment like panniers or a shopping trolley.

* Deal with setbacks. If you lapse by doing or buying something that goes against your principles, it’s not the end of the world. Making major changes takes time, and setbacks are part of the process. Forgive yourself and move on!

* Connect with others. Reaching out to likeminded people is a great way to motivate yourself to shop and live differently. Start a blog on your shopping/sustainability journey, a Facebook page on your favourite green or ethical cause, or a Twitter account. Humans are social creatures; it’s amazing how telling other people about the changes you’ve made, or would like to make, can motivate you. If you’d rather connect in the real world, join a green group, start your own, or enlist a friend who wants to make similar changes so you can encourage each other.

* The phrase think globally, act locally may be a cliche but it still holds. When deciding which websites and news sources to keep up with, it’s a good idea to choose a combination of those with international and general information on green and ethical issues, and those that focus on your country, state or local area.

* Research ethical and green claims using credible sources. It’s a great thing to read labels when you buy, but it’s not enough. You may need to research the various labels to ensure that the goods you’re interested in aren’t simply an example of ‘greenwash’. It’s probably safest to take a sceptical view of corporations and  to use credible sources to check green and ethical claims. The recent watering down of fair trade requirements by Fair Trade USA illustrates that if you want to be an aware consumer you need to stay informed of what companies and accreditation bodies are doing.

* Ask your favourite brands to make the changes you want. If enough people put pressure on mainstream brands to adopt ethical practices and sustainable or organic lines, they would be forced to do so. You could email brands you’ve stopped using for ethical reasons to let them know why you no longer buy their products, for instance.

* Shop locally where possible. Slow Food is a movement that encourages people to support small, local food producers and to adopt a seasonal diet (see website for more information). You can support some of its principles by buying your food at food markets, farmers’ markets, co-ops, organic grocery stores and local greengrocers as an alternative to the supermarket. Don’t confine your local shopping to food; you might be amazed at what your neighbourhood shopping strip has to offer.

* Connect with people in your local area. Many great local sustainability initiatives fly under the radar. Google a search for websites with information about sustainability in your local area or city. Is there a freecycling group in your neighbourhood, community garden, tool-sharing service or even a group that meets regularly to cook and share a meal? Sustainable Melbourne is an example of a website with regular updates of local initiatives.

* Check out local recycling options. Perhaps you’ve assumed that the only option for recycling in your area is putting out the council recycling bin once a week? You might be surprised at how many other options there are for recycling goods like mobile phones, batteries, printer cartridges, and even whitegoods and paint tins. Search local government and sustainability websites for more information, or google ‘recycling’ for your local area.

* Don’t pike out if you’re a renter. These days there are many resources available for adopting a greener lifestyle if you don’t own your own home. For example, Green Renters is a Melbourne-based not-for-profit group that provides advice on sustainable living for  renters.

Until next time!

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The Tuck-In – A Versatile Look for the Frugally Fashionable

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Happy new year! It has come to the attention of this blogger (okay, probably at least a year after the fact!) that a 'new' trend is on the rise – the 'tuck-in'. It's now officially okay – in fact downright fashionable – to tuck shirts and T-shirts into jeans and other casual pants, as tightly as you want, and, if you so wish, without a belt in sight. This is great news for the frugal and fashionable.

For years tuck-ins were usually loose, had to include a belt, and as far as I'm aware (I'm happy to be proved wrong) weren't done if the pants were skinny or straight. Now any kind of tuck-in is de rigeur, and the belt-less tuck-in with skinnies is particularly favoured. And you can tuck in as tightly or loosely as you want.

Pants can be seventies flares, skinnies, tapered in the nineties style, 'boyfriend' and cargo shapes, including ultra-baggy, and even middle-of-the-road tailored flares.

Footwear is versatile but includes comfy brogues and oxfords.

For a preppie look, tuck in a T-shirt or fitted shirt into skinny jeans as shown below. (A tight-fitting short-sleeved shirt would add to the preppiness.)

For a fifties girlie look, tuck a T-shirt, shirt or sleeveless top into a pair of capris or rolled-up skinny jeans (a gingham shirt is particularly retro).

For a retro seventies look, tuck a shirt (especially one with a tie) into high-waisted seventies flares.

You can easily dress up the tuck-in with heels.

The tuck-in goes well with various kinds of skirts, including buttoned skirts.

In fact, if you're trying to get the most out of your existing wardrobe, the tuck-in has some great things going for it:

* It gives a new look to your stuff. It's amazing how tucking something in can create novelty - novelty is what shoppers crave, and why we always want to buy new clothes.

* It makes some pieces work together that otherwise wouldn't.

* It's particularly suited to shirts and may give new life to some shirts that you hadn't got around to getting rid of. You could also buy boys or men's shirts from the op (thrift) shop and tuck them in.

* You can create some retro looks very easily, without significant outlay.

* You don't have to worry about your waistline. Okay, so the tuck-in can seem unforgiving. But you don't have to tuck in tight. A loose tuck-in for the tummy challenged (ie virtually everyone over the age of 25!) can be very flattering, especially in the case of low-waisted jeans.

* There's huge versatility in the tuck-in. You can tuck in to low or high waists to create different looks, as the pics above show.

Until next time!

If you enjoyed this blog entry, you might also like Wanted – An Annie Hall for the 2000s and An Op Shop Find Transformed by the Needle!
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