How did South Australians embrace becoming thrifty? In this story, we explore austerity and rationing during times of war and depression, op shopping, and resources to help us reduce our consumerism.
Country Womens Association display during Education Week, 11 - 17 August, 1957. Sponsored by the Woomera Community and C.W.A. SLSA: B 44353
A display of grapes, fruit and nuts at the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society Autumn Show, 1912. SLSA: PRG 280/1/14/591
Fruit and olive oils exhibited by the Government of South Australia at the Royal Show, 1927. SLSA: SRG 168/1/58/12
In the 2020s consumerism, at least the kind that totally consumes us, is going out of fashion. And although it’s taken a while, for most people, greed is no longer considered good. Consumers are thinking smarter. Thrift is becoming a new way of life. Developing a veggie patch and keeping chooks is almost a religious experience for some.
Change is on the horizon. In many arenas change is already here. Plastic bags are out, paper bags and bring your own coffee cup are in. Recycling is considered a very good thing. This includes clothing, furniture, household items, artwork, toys, books, music, and bric-a-brac. Opportunity shops (commonly known as op shops) have never quite gone out of style. Some took a hit during COVID, even to the point of closure. Two years on from the height of the pandemic COVID is still with us, however op shops are back in business and right now business seems to be booming.
Red Cross shop, Rundle Street, 2022. Photo by Jenny Scott. SLSA: PRG 1629/29/7
Hand written social distancing sign in an op shop, 2020. Photo by Taryn Ellis.
SLSA: B 78533/81
Red Cross Opportunity Shop, 1960. SLSA: SRG 770/40/565
Since it began as a one-day sale in 1949, the opportunity shop has raised funds for the Red Cross. This scene of bustle and bargains was captured on opening day on March 28, 1960.
Most of us would agree that staying healthy for as long as possible is good thing. Eating well and exercising are important contributors to health. Spending time in a garden has health benefits, not just aesthetically but in practical ways. Growing our own food is beneficial, especially if we can save money in the process. But what about growing space, or lack of it? The good news is that many green vegetables can be grown in just one square metre, and lots of herbs and salad greens do well in pots so that even a balcony can be used to grow edible plants. How do I know this? Thanks to my library.
Libraries are great places to find information on so many different topics. They’re also welcoming and accessible.
Whether you’re into prize winning sweet peas, creative clothing, cleaning without chemicals, or baking on a budget, there’s information on that.
Libraries can lead you to information on just about everything!
The Green and gold cookery book, a staple of South Australian families for many decades. SLSA: South Australian Collection
Living "well" within your means, written by Cassandra J O'Loughlin. SLSA: South Australian Collection
One magic square: grow your own food on one square metre, written by Lolo Houbein. SLSA: South Australian Collection
Real simple: 869 new uses for old things, edited by Rachel Hardage and Sharon Tanenbaum. SLSA: South Australian Collection
If you’d like somewhere interesting to take the kids, visit an exhibition or just spend a few restful hours reading in a comfortable chair, your library is a great place to visit.
And if you want to say goodbye to overspending, at least for a while, libraries are free for everyone. How good is that?
Written by Isabel Story, Engagement Librarian
Header image: Australian Women's Weekly, 5 May, 1945