Keeping up with the New Joneses

New Joneses
New Joneses

That doesn't mean near-starvation or personal hygiene 'experiments'. But it does mean a heightened awareness of that most basic of human behaviours: consumption.

Marking swelling interests in conscientious consumption is The New Joneses campaign. A new standard to live by, perhaps, or simply an urge to live less wastefully, the campaign will see two Melburnians living side-by-side in pre-fab, sustainable, pop-up apartments in Melbourne's Fed Square for five days next week.

The 'New Joneses' are two thirty-somethings, Adam Stayfer, a comedian and a father, and Camilla Jackson, an actress and film-maker.

"They're good sports and they are up for it", says creator of the project, Tamara DiMettina of her willing volunteers – which is lucky as the couple will arrive at their temporary homes wearing only their undies and will carry nothing but bare essentials.

Adam will then dress in clothes from the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Camilla's threads will be sourced solely from the Sacred Heart Mission during the experiment.

The pre-fab apartments, which will be craned into the square, are made by Unitised Building and Elenberg Fraser and have been furnished by auction house, Leonard Joel. Cosy as it sounds, the homes will be open to the public each afternoon.

Anna Grassham, a stylist with Leonard Joel Weekly Antiques and Interiors, told Life & Style that there is so much style, character and soul in the weekly antiques and interiors auctions that it makes her "wonder why anyone would buy new. Second hand pieces come with their own personalities and history. You can't get that with new things."

Food will be provided by Sustainable Table, a not-for-profit that aims to educate about sustainability through stomachs - that's besides a meal cooked by 'waste' guru and BBC Young Chef of the Year, Douglas McMasters, and fresh eggs from the on-site hens.

But it is the heart behind the operation, DiMattina, who lives and breathes the 'think before you buy' mentality: her home and office prove that the second-hand maven walks the walk and talks the talk.

"Pretty much everything we need we can source second-hand and you can source it really stylishly. You can get better quality, better made things second-hand that are built to last”, she says.

She opened her doors to us to show off her favourite second hand finds, all sourced from auctions, junk yards, op-shops and garage sales.

"Buying second hand at Brotherhood of St Laurence and Sacred Heart Mission means I'm extending the life of existing stuff, diverting it from landfill, but also my money is going towards important community programs" said the 33-year-old. "But mostly, I love shopping second hand as I find it's a more interesting way of gathering an eclectic collection."

The Abbotsford, Vic, local has crafted jewellery holders from junk shop metal filing boxes and has filled a bowl from an op-shop with inspirational messages that in turn become Christmas tree decorations.

A child's red tricycle ended up giving its name to one of DiMettina's not-for-profit ventures, while crates provide colourful storage in the office. She says that a "super expensive" sofa was hers for a mere couple of hundred dollars, while a birdcage from a junk store at a market holds another find - a toy pig, named Gilbert.

"Second hand is my default setting. I love buying good quality second hand things. I love the challenge of the scavenger hunt, and the thrill of finding something really fantastic", said DiMattina.

Natalie Baxter of the Brotherhood of St Laurence agrees - op-shopping, she says, is "definitely a different style of shopping, you have to go in with imagination and an open mind."

Let the (sustainable) bargain-hunting commence.

The New Joneses will be living in Fed Square from the 8th to the 12th October.

This story Keeping up with the New Joneses first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.