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
I wasn’t looking for an Unconsumption tie-in to tonight’s Academy Awards, but:
Among the five documentary shorts nominated for an Oscar this year is Redemption, a thirty-five minute film about New York City’s “canners”: the men, women, and children who collect bottles and cans from the city’s streets for their five-cent cash redemption value.
Edible Geography has a great analysis of the film and the issues it touches on, and implies. Read it here.
That the opportunity to “can” exists at all in New York is due to the state’s Bottle Bill, enacted as part of environmental conservation legislation in 1982. Only eleven states in the U.S. have some kind of container deposit legislation, which occasionally leads to some cross-border shenanigans: a recent Los Angeles Times article pointed out that California’s 2011 redemption rate for plastic containers was an impressive but technically impossible 104 percent, and blamed “crafty entrepreneurs” driving “semi-trailers full of cans from Nevada or Arizona.”
Bottle Bills are usually promoted as an incentive to encourage the public to recycle more and throw away less. Various studies have shown that they do increase recycling rates dramatically: the United States’ overall beverage container recycling rate is estimated at thirty-three percent, while states with container deposit laws have an average rate of seventy percent. As watching a documentary like Redemption makes clear, however, a lot of this extra recycling and sorting is not being done by the consumers of canned or bottled beverages; instead, the state has outsourced its acts of environmental virtue, at far below minimum wage ($2.50 an hour at best, by my rough calculations), to some of its most marginalised populations.
Carl Richards’ The Case for Spending a Little More Sometimes, which ran last year in The New York Times’s Bucks blog, is written from a financial standpoint, but could be viewed through an environmental lens: Why not buy fewer things — higher-quality items that we really need or want — with the intent of keeping (and using) them for a long time? By doing so, we reduce our ecological footprints, generate less waste, and send less stuff to landfills. Simple.
Here is the issue: when we settle for stuff that we don’t really want, and instead buy stuff that will be fine for a while, it often costs more in the long run.
Too often I think we convince ourselves that buying for the long term doesn’t matter. We can always replace it, right?
But how much simpler would life and our money decisions be if we bought with the goal of owning that item for a long time? Taking this approach puts a new spin on how we spend our money. Maybe it makes us think a little harder about what we’re buying. Maybe it makes us wait a little longer so we can afford exactly what we want. Maybe it makes us a little happier about what we have because we’re buying things we want around for a long time.
If the raw materials used to create these chairs appear ugly at first blush, well, they’ve earned the right; for all of their useful lives they’ve served as broom, rake or spade handles, helping people keep their floors and yards tidy. Core77 fave Reinier de Jong has turned these cast-off items to the more aesthetically pleasing, if equally ignominious, task of supporting your ass.
Bicycles are already a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to travel around the city. But creative agency Lola Madrid wanted to make the perfect bike, so they developed a prototype made from components of old junkyard cars.
Cars go to the junkyard and we recycle them to create the most efficient, ecological and healthy mean of transportation.
Bolivian Ingrid Vaca Diez is on a mission to improve the housing situation for the poor in her country by using plastic bottles—the only material she can find in abundance—to build surprisingly sturdy houses.
The self-taught designer of these “garbage homes” fills recycled plastic bottles with dirt and uses them as bricks to construct her innovative houses.
To date, she has built ten such homes for poverty-stricken families.
A show that turns artists’ “scraps and discards” into fresh works of art:
For What is Yours is Mine, Doug Weathersby — a/k/a Environmental Services — [visited other artists] and learned about … their practice, photographically documented their spaces and collected scraps and discards from the studio….
Regardless of what he was given, Weathersby abided by one rule: he must use everything that he recovered from each studio in What is Yours is Mine.
Using this unwanted detritus, including components of failed art works, Weathersby composed bizarre sculptures, keeping in mind the nature of each artist’s practice as he worked.
A large dumpster, ES Art Storage, was fabricated on site. It is both constructed from and contains remaining materials and works that “didn’t make the cut.”