The group of people who get into financial difficulties is growing all the time. You can still find second-hand clothing and furniture at the Thrift Shop, but prices are also rising there. ‘Then I’ll do it myself’, thought Annelie Mindrup (56) from Huizen, who started her own budget cycle at home. And so more and more citizens are taking matters into their own hands. What is the power and importance of these private initiatives, at a time when clothing and food banks are working overtime?
Instead of passively watching poverty increase, citizens more often decide to roll up their sleeves, so that people living below the poverty line can increasingly turn to private clothing, baby equipment and food banks.
De Huizense Annelie sells second-hand products in her shop at home for lower prices than those of the Kringloop. The prices of (baby) clothing, jewelry, toys or furniture are often no longer affordable for people with a small wallet at thrift stores.
Annelie wants to make a difference with her budget cycle. “For people who have a low budget, the prices have become much too high. I receive a lot of things from friends, acquaintances and other residents of Huizen. When I see those happy mothers again with a nice package for their son, I am I’m happy too.”
The Rataplan Foundation, with thirty thrift shops in North Holland, South Holland and Flevoland, confirms that the prices of second-hand products are rising. “The prices are indeed going up, because our energy costs have also risen. Thrift stores work with a fixed price list, so if the prices rise, it will happen at a national level. Of course we still try to remain affordable for people with little income.”
The Rataplan Foundation also sees the fact that more and more people are in financial distress in its private offering. “We receive a lot less stuff. The range of clothing in particular is becoming increasingly scarce. We try to encourage people to donate stuff through advertisements, so that we can continue to provide people with their primary needs.”
The foundation can therefore only applaud private initiatives such as Annelie’s. As well as popular resale platforms, such as Marktplaats and Vinted. “Consumers are increasingly opting for second-hand products. That is good for the environment, because it counteracts fast fashion. If we can offer things a longer life in this way, we also have to produce less.”
Burned or ground
Since the advent of fast fashion in the 1980s, clothing brands prefer to produce quickly and cheaply. But there is a big downside to that production model: brands are stuck with millions of surpluses of clothing. In 2018, for example, H&M had a surplus of clothing worth 4.3 billion euros. In England it was announced a few years ago that Burberry was large scale destroyed unsold products to protect their luxury, exclusive brand equity.
“Why would you buy a car if the neighbor’s car is stationary 90 percent of the time?”
According to sharing economy expert Harmen van Sprang (48), the economic system in the Netherlands is starting to show more and more cracks.
‘Property is sacred’
He therefore advocates a thorough renovation, a new system in which we share more often than own: “We do not need capitalist growth to improve people’s lives. Owning is now sacred, it gives a sense of security and prosperity, but if because of the crisis we will no longer be able to buy everything, we may have to make choices. Why buy a car if the neighbors’ car is standing still ninety percent of the time?”
The example of the ‘shared car’ shows the power of this private initiative, he continues. “There are now a thousand shared cars in Amsterdam. Sharing is better, cheaper and more efficient than owning one. Fortunately, those platforms are growing more and more and will soon also be present in rural areas.”
“Wealth now mainly depends on own property, but more and more young people are realizing that they can and do not want to get everything out of it anymore”
Not only the increased poverty and the energy crisis, but also the climate crisis require a collective change in consciousness and an economic revolution, says Van Sprang. “Everything started to grow after the Second World War. Now people often have two cars in front of the door, because we want to own everything. Wealth now mainly depends on own property, but more and more young people are realizing that they can no longer do everything with it. and want to get it.”
According to Van Sprang, the climate crisis, war and price increases are slowly creating a new mindset, which can ultimately undermine the current capitalist system. “That can be painful in the short term, but in the long term we will see what really matters in life. Sharing can come in all kinds of forms and does not always have to yield money. In any case, it always makes me happy if I can help someone with something I don’t use anymore.”