old products, not cheap products

alternatively: 'old vs. new', 'another way to be green', 'a second life for products' or 'ikea vs. emmaüs'

this is my one of my first entrys in a while, as i have been away. during my time in france i went to an emmaüs, which is always a great experience! at first, i thought emmaüs was a bit like a charity shop or ymca, where they take in everything from furniture to clothes, crockery, cookware, toys, books, old records, bikes and skateboards, and anything else you can think of, and sell it on. this is true, but what i have since found out is that it is a lot more.

from their website:

'Emmaus Communities offer homeless people a home, work and the chance to rebuild their lives in a supportive environment. There are currently 17 Communities open around the UK and several more in development. We rely on donations of good quality furniture and household goods from the public, which are sold in Emmaus shops.
Emmaus Communities enable people to move on from homelessness, providing work and a home in a supportive, family environment. Companions, as residents are known, work full time collecting renovating and reselling donated furniture. This work supports the Community financially and enables residents to develop skills and rebuild their self-respect.
Emmaus is a secular movement, spanning more than 40 countries, with 17 Communities in the UK. Each Community aims to become self-supporting, with any surplus donated to others in need.'

as with any charity shop, the specific products they sell will always change, but they will generally have anything you need there. they don't sell any old rubbish; everything is checked, cleaned or mended before being put in the right section of the barn or warehouse. the one i went to was in the middle of nowhere in burgundy, and the products were a lot more rural than the kind of things i have seen in the one i have been to in brighton (portslade), which was great!

this post is not about me promoting a charity, but while i was there i picked up a few things and it got me thinking. this is the time of year when usually all students moving out of home will go to ikea and get all their cheap glasses, cutlery and saucepans, as well as all the other things they need. being in this particular emmaüs though, i wondered why anyone would prefer the same old ikea tumblers when you could get a unique, good as new set from here? the same goes for plates and bowls, mugs sugar pots, you name it.

why buy the same clock that everyone else has, when you can get one that no one else has, and might match the rest of your things better? the teacups on sale here are much more fun and unique, and are often cheaper. you'll never find the variety that a place like this has compared to somewhere like ikea, argos or homebase.

another advantage is being able to get top quality products at vastly discounted prices. 'le creuset' cast iron cookware for example, is famed for being the best and lasting forever. everyone in france seems to have one, so its only natural that they would turn up in this warehouse. as i have said, they are know for lasting, the one on the left was in perfect condition and was bought for €5. the one on the right, brand new, costs €200 (if you're lucky!).

the sugar pot i bought a year ago (left) cost £0.99, which i thought was cheap at the time. it is made of glass, aluminium, silicone rubber and polyethylene plastic. i have since seen it in at least five other people's houses. the one on the right cost me €0.30, and i will probably never see another one in my life. i think it looks great! it is made of glass, and looks brand new.

i am not saying ikea is a waste of time, far from it. of course no one is going to buy their sheets from a charity shop, but a lot of things i would definitely prefer to get from somewhere like emmaüs. i love going to ikea. a lot of the products they sell are really well designed, and when things are that cheap you can rarely go wrong. moving out of home up to university was made a lot easier by ikea, but emmaüs (or any similar place) can be just as useful. i think the problem is that if everyone has the same things at such a cheap price, it becomes easier to throw them away whenever you feel like it, and replace them with whatever is cheap and in style at the time. having something unique that you have picked out, even though it was just as cheap, makes it more personal and valuable, and will make you less likely to throw it out. even if you do, at least you have given it a second life rather than just ending it after one.

i don't think everyone would share my opinion, but i would hope some people will. it seems natural that everyone should be a bit different and have their own style than just adopt the style that ikea sells at that particular time.

link to emmaüs

link to ikea