MAY 29 — I collect hobbies the way some surfaces collect lint.

It's a drain on my attention and resources but I like telling myself that it keeps my brain plastic.

An old hobby that keeps threatening my ruination is the very act of collecting. During the pandemic I learned to shop on Taobao and then figured out how the Nike sneaker market worked.

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Fast forward to the present and my China knick-knacks still take pride of place in my living room; to the point my electrician stopped to admire them, proclaiming a simple “Wahhh” of appreciation.

My shoe collection is instead being repurposed.

Who knew that Air Jordans made decent skate shoes? Now if only the weather and my health would co-operate so I can take the skateboard and my achy joints to the new skateparks.

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It's a good thing I only bought shoes I liked and intended to wear, and not for resale or value because the demand for Jordans has crashed due to oversupply and Nike releasing too many models that look, well, the same.

I somehow always pick up new friends when I start new hobbies. My Instagram account dedicated to my doll collection grew faster than my personal account, and I have two extra Twitter (nope it's not X) accounts just to talk to people I've befriended in my other two hobbies.

Blythe dolls are again becoming a cult object of adoration thanks to of all things, TikTok. — Picture courtesy of Junie Moon
Blythe dolls are again becoming a cult object of adoration thanks to of all things, TikTok. — Picture courtesy of Junie Moon

Meanwhile my magpie brain has now decided to hyperfixate on dolls.

Of course the Barbie Movie craze helped trigger that but then it got tiresome quickly when Mattel showed that it didn't quite understand the demand for the movie dolls, making what shouldn't have been rare items scarce and difficult to find.

Now I see some of the less popular dolls lingering on shelves unwanted and I think, if they had just come out during the movie they would have sold.

Again I made new friends offline and oh, learned about various types of dolls and markets. Then I learned about a doll that is currently all the rage again in doll circles: the Blythe doll.

It's a doll with a fascinating history. When it first came out, the Blythe doll proved to be unpopular because its design apparently terrified small children with its big oversized head and judgemental face.

Yet that slightly terrifying mug captivated adults and the initial run of the doll (dubbed “Kenner” Blythes after the brand that made them at the time) is now highly coveted by collectors.

Kenner was acquired by Hasbro, who still own the licence for the Blythe name but the dolls are now made by the hobby goods maker Good Smile Company, taking over the manufacturing from Japanese brand Takara.

The dolls can be incredibly expensive even secondhand, with brand new dolls starting from ¥18000 (RM538) while rarer older dolls are often spotted on eBay or Japanese secondhand shops for prices that can reach up to ¥100,000.

For those who can't afford “stock” (the collector term) dolls, there are also dupe Blythe dolls where Chinese manufacturers churn out dolls that come in far more colour options than original Blythe dolls that tend to mostly have pale skin and limited hair colour choices.

Yet what fascinates me most are Blythe customisers who repaint and style the dolls and one doll customiser account I follow, Things by Nur from Turkiye, sells dolls for US$1,200 a pop (RM5,630).

Nur doesn't do requests, instead modifying dolls to her own personal taste and vision. It seems her taste suits most people as her dolls always sell out as soon as she puts them up for sale on her Etsy store.

I prefer stock dolls but buying them new is a far too expensive endeavour. Instead I trawl secondhand shops and find dolls that just need a little TLC.

The sentiment to just “fix things up” or hold on to old things for as long as they work is something I see a lot on Reddit forums, whether it's dolls or refrigerators.

With how much plastic is floating around (with a recent viral article saying that microplastics have been found in male testicles) it really is time the world rethinks the consumption cycle.

I read recently about 3M's role in the proliferation of fluorochemicals, more often known as PFAS or forever chemicals.

The properties that made those chemicals useful in such applications as non-stick pans and firefighting foam also made it so they did not break down easily, leading to the chemicals accumulating in human bodies and polluting water supplies.

While 3M has committed to gradually stopping the production of PFAS, the damage has been done as PFAS has been found in soil as well as water sources.

It's unfair to blame consumers when the entire retail cycle is about enticing people to buy things they don't need and to keep buying them, and even spending on extra storage for the things they buy.

Seeing the burning landfills in India should be enough of a wakeup call to the rest of the world to rethink consumption.

It shouldn't be left up to individuals because by and large the biggest polluters and waste generators are corporations.

I've stopped buying clothes new and only thrift them these days (except for underwear and shoes) and even my doll habit is pared down to one to two purchases a year, and buying secondhand.

Yet my small act of preventing a pretty piece of plastic going into the landfill or being eaten up by mold in a warehouse won't do much when I know that rainforests are being destroyed for timber and oil slicks are polluting the oceans.

The corals are dying and it feels, sometimes, so is my resolve to care about things in the grander scheme of it all.

Yet I think we should care and begin to move to an age where we make and preserve only the things worth preserving and start weaning ourselves off the addiction to new and more things.

I want to be hopeful that someday we can win against the relentless wheel of capitalism and the frightening and money making engine of war.

War is profitable, don't you know? If the world was peaceful where would all those missiles, tanks and bullets go?

The buying needs to stop but so does the mentality that all we can do is throw instead of reuse and repurpose.

Because at this rate we are going even our trees will be made of plastic and the world would be so much a poorer place for it.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.