May 15, 2006

untapped market

I grew up in a very thrifty environment. Maybe I am being very harsh on myself, using the word thrifty instead of the polite word ‘economical’. It was nothing that I was proud of till recently. My dad is a collector. No, he doesn’t own the most beautiful collection of stamps or coins, neither does he own the weird collection of some of the items featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not (read toilet bowl cover). Actually, in actual sense, he is not really a collector. Things just really piled up throughout the years, perhaps. My father is a true believer in recycling, but not because of the environment, but because of the cost of it. He is an industry metal engraver (not the artistic type), working in the workshop attached to the rear of my home. Somehow, the whole workshop seems like a different world from other part of the house.

Okay, back to the collector part. Here’s a list of the items which is actually non-exhaustive in actual sense. One, glass bottles from drinks and herbal medicine (usually chicken essence) will be used later as storage for various chemicals or paint. Secondly, boxes in various sizes from various objects kept to be used later on to store other stuff. Thirdly, newspapers for were used mostly as cover for the top of rack or some furniture, and to be changed once it got dusty. Therefore, one doesn’t have to stretch your long arms to wipe them. Not to mention, newspapers for my dad seems to be something so versatile that reading the news on it just the tip of the iceberg for its usage. The few items stated above were something that he will reuse for the second time, and then be thrown away eventually. What was saved was the money to buy a new container and the troublesome process of cleaning it. In addition, there were various raw material ie woods, metal, paint, and etc that were kept to be used later.

As a great influence to me, I was once a collector, too. Feeling a great resistance whenever I wanted to throw away something which I knew it could be used for something else one fine day. I slowly felt that I was really worth it as I don’t have to dig out any extra bucks when I can use that stuff. One example was the little "Christmas in a can" gift for my girlfriend was from the sardine can. I was meaningful in a sense that those meant-for-sandwich sardines were bought for me, after I told her about the ‘boring’ food prepared in my college. One thing perhaps that I was different from my dad was that I do kept lots of my stuff because of their sentimental value. I still keep some of my used primary school exercise books. I kept the stage decoration of ‘the leaf from the red bean’ which I painstakingly made using electrical saw which was used in Malam Suai Kenal, UM Buddhist Society, back in my second year. I still keep a note that was stuck to my reading booth of Guthrie Study Room which read ‘Robert Richard’ from this mamat, during our thrilling first semester exam of first year. The resistance in throwing any of this stuff is really great, making my every effort most of the time seems very futile. As time goes by, I think I had cook up enough courage to threw away some of them, but I took a photo of them before their disposals, of course. And some were kept for other purposes.

I think it is fair that my dad would be considered a second-hand item collectors, or in a much proper way, domestic second-hand item collectors. Come to think of it. If those items were not kept, they would end up as another mountain of garbage. I think my dad had done a good job, but still, I will want to make a point. All those second-hand items can be kept but their storage method must fulfill this 2 points:

1 It must be kept orderly so that finding them for future use would be more convenient than the effort of buying them off the rack in local grocery story. (or else, we're just piling up a mountain of rubbish at home)

2 It must use up as little space possible and not cause appalling influence on the general outlook of the home.

Second-hand items can be big business, which was proven successful with books. I believed it would be successful, too for various items which one uses for only a short brief period of time. Today, as I drove past by local kindergartens, I watched with a heavy heart, a motorcycle with a mom and 3 kids on them. All the 3 kids were without any helmet, although the government had made a big effort to urge people to keep the helmet on for the little ones. I believe, the parents don’t really bother to buy a helmet as they knew when their head grew bigger, they will eventually have to throw those helmets away (and perhaps buy another slightly bigger size kiddy helmet). Therefore, unknown to them, they are risking the lives of their children. As the tv ad from channel 5 once said ‘ you can get around the rules, but you can’t get around death’. Anyway, if there are means for parents to buy those second-hand helmets (in good condition), then resell them back later. I will perhaps works.

When the second-hand items shop businesses for various items really expands, I guess people would start cherishing everything and take great care of them, as to capture a higher resale value when the item not needed anymore. And all in all, the amount of rubbish may actually goes down, and Mother earth would look us in the eye and smile. As the old saying goes, yes, old, very old, every thousand steps journey begins with a foot carried forward steadily in front of another foot. yes, a single step.

P/S we actually already have e-bay and, but a big percentage of Msian not so tech-savvy yet, because it is not year 2020 yet.

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