Unconsumption means the accomplishment of properly recycling your old cellphone, rather than the guilt of letting it sit in a drawer.
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a service like Freecycle (or Craigslist, Goodwill, or Salvation Army) to find a new home for the functioning DVD player you just replaced, rather than throwing it in the garbage.
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out – as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style.
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room.
Unconsumption is not about the rejection of things, or the demonization of things. It’s not a bunch of rules.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.
Founder & Editor:Rob Walker, journalist, Savannah, GA
Editorial & Community Manager: Molly Block, marketing and business development geek, Houston, TX
In collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council, Marjan Van Aubel and James Shaw collected different types of shavings from a furniture factory, combined them with bio-resin, added water and discovered a chemical reaction that makes the wood waste expand to become a solid, foam material.
Everyone is familiar with the vending machine that spits out a can of coke or a bag of Skittles.
However, if you like cold, hard cash better than the cold, hard candy, here is another dispenser you might be interested in - the Reverse Vending Machine, which rewards users coins in exchange for their empty plastic bottles.
“Suitcase Wheel,” a 16-foot-diameter sculpture made from 75 vintage Samsonite suitcases held together by an internal metal armature, was installed last month at the San Antonio International Airport where it will be on view for two years.
Made by Houston-based artist duo Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, a.k.a.The Art Guys, the work was first exhibited in 1995 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and was last seen on display in 1999 at the Tacoma Art Museum.
Public Art San Antonio features several photos chronicling the suitcase installation process: here.
Bonus: HoustonPBS recently profiled The Art Guys. See the video here.
I’m so excited to share this list of 6 bloggers who are in the midst of their own Buy Nothing New challenges for 2013! I started my Buy Nothing New challenge in 2011 and finished up in April of 2012 but my personal evolution toward more simple living continues to be a work in progress (some days…
Here’s a useful follow-up to the recent post about the Oscar-nominated documentary Remption, which is all about people who make money collecting bottles & cans in NYC: A Pocket History of Bottle Recycling.
It’s a longish piece, but pretty interesting in giving an overview of changing societal attitudes toward bottle reuse and recycling (and the policies that reinforce or reshape those attitudes), and notes that behavior around these issues is quite different in some countries:
So why do so many Norwegians recycle? Is it simply because the deposits are higher? Norwegians are refunded 1 krone for small containers and 2,5 kroner for large containers — the equivalent of respectively 17 and 43 cents. This may sound high, but remember that the average monthly salary in Norway is about $6,700. Very few people recycle because they have to. No, the deposits matter, but it matters just as much that Norwegians never discarded the recycling habit.
But in a more recent item, Core77 takes note of some interesting comments on its earlier piece:
Several readers voiced various plaints about Balzer & Kuwertz’s recently-seen Pallet Chairs, but I was most convinced by Scott #2’s comment that “Pallets are reused for shipping over and over, so it’s not like you’re saving materials from the waste stream.”
According to IFCO—”the largest pallet services company in the county”—”less than 3% of the nearly 700 million pallets manufactured and repaired each year end up in landfills according to a study by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the USDA Forestry Service.”
Interesting! Although even 3% of 700 million pallets seems like a lot, and I know that in my neighborhood I see abandoned pallets all the time, objects surely more likely headed for landfill than back into the shipping system.
This is a great idea and looks great: Combine the good parts of broken tables and chairs. Bonus: Lamps made from waste sun-screen material:
Gothenburg, Sweden-based design studio, Design Stories, set out to create a collection made of industrial waste material produced by local companies. Working in collaboration with a group of producers and artisans called Returhuset, Merry-Go-Round was born. The pieces are made from materials that would normally be thrown away as trash and the results are a charming collection of lamps and tables with an interesting story to tell.
For years, many cities have treated recycling as an individual civic responsibility like paying taxes or jury duty. The onus is on citizens to do the work of separating trash from recyclables: metal, glass and plastic in one bin, paper in another and landfill items in a third, while city trash collectors cart it away sometimes using a different truck for each kind of waste. Not surprisingly, it’s estimated that cities only effectively recycle about 30 percent of their trash.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker aims to turn this equation on its head. Instead of pushing to get consumers to do a better job separating trash from recyclables, she believes tapping technology can get the job done. Her plan is called Total Reuse: One Bin for All, which envisions the construction of a high-tech sorting facility that would allow 75 percent of Houston’s trash to be recycled using technologies from the mining and refining industries and would potentially generate its own power. Residents put everything in one bin; technology handles the rest.
Houston is one of 20 cities vying for $5 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge. The City of Houston plans to pursue the total reuse initiative regardless of whether it’s awarded Mayors Challenge funding.
[Update, via a City of Houston media release: Houston’s project was awarded a $1 million grant from the Mayors Challenge, and also was voted the “fan favorite.”
Providence, Rhode Island, won the Mayors Challenge top prize of $5 million for its literacy project; read more about all five award-winning cities’ projects in this New York Times article.]
Eleven groups of Houston-area students, ranging from elementary- to high school-level, used salvaged materials to convey messages about the importance of generating less waste.
The students applied both their creativity and an array of items, ranging from plastic bottles to scrap fabric, to 96-gallon recycling carts. Participation in the project, known as “Growing Up Recycling,” not only helped to enhance students’ understanding of environmental issues and increase their awareness of potential career options, but provided an opportunity for the teams to win cash prizes.
Unconsumption was thrilled to be involved with this reuse project: Unconsumptioneer Molly Block (that’s me!), along with several leaders in the sustainability arena in Houston, helped judge the entries. (More about that here.)
All participating schools’ carts will be displayed at several locations, including city-wide festivals and The City of Houston Public Works and Engineering building (mentioned previously on Unconsumption here).
Pictured: 1) Second-place winner Chavez High School’s submission, covered in plastic bottles and cardboard; 2) Sam Houston High School’s entry, which involved students from the school’s art, robotic, and automotive clubs (and the construction of a battery-operated animated “owl”), earned both first place and people’s choice awards; 3) Long Middle/High School’s cART, third place winner.