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
A groundbreaking and innovative project is set to tackle issues of agricultural waste and lack of housing in Africa.
Professor of Architecture and Design Theory Bachelor Architecture Charles Job has collaborated with the Bern University of Applied Arts to acquire a research project that aims to develop building materials from agricultural waste products for affordable housing in Nigeria.
The ultimate goal of the research project is to provide a series of prototype case study houses that are informed by local building traditions and can be integrated into the local community. With this goal in mind, the research project aims to use locally-sourced agricultural waste materials such as corn cobs, rice husks and groundnut shells as a sustainable alternative to cement, as well as a more cost-effective alternative to imported timber products for the construction of low-cost houses. Using these materials further reduces the pollution released by the incarnation of corn, rice and groundnut residue.
The “Occasional Table” is the first prototype on which Jobs hopes to continue and extend the research project. The tables are simple interlocking shapes, each made from a different recycled agricultural waste material. The tabletops are attached to the supporting legs with strong magnets to simplify production, transport and self-assembly. The table reveals how the material can be applied to various designs including walls for low-cost housing.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced … the city’s approval of a plan to convert organic waste and wastewater from schools and as many as 100,000 homes into a biogas that is mostly methane, which is already being used to power thousands of homes in the city.
Garbage to gold: An experimental project, Upcycle House by Lendager Arkitekter, in Nyborg, Denmark, aims for extreme carbon emission reduction by building a home from converted post-consumer waste, recycled and upcycled into primary construction materials.
Right now we’re working on the Waste Project, with tables and chairs and other things that we make from waste material left over from our own production. This project started in 2000, but we’re still working on it on many different levels.
One of the new things is a Waste Waste 40x40 series—so it’s made of the waste of the Waste Project. Instead of the leftovers determining the size and the image of the product, we cut everything down to 40-by-40-millimeter blocks.
It’s a totally different approaching to using the leftovers, and we’re using almost everything because it’s a very small size. And that provides beautiful new objects.
Okay this is not exactly the ideal form of Unconsumption, but seemed amusingly weird enough to pass along:
Artist James Dive’s “Once” consists of a 4 x 4 meter cube of demolished and compacted amusement park. A closer look reveals midway prizes, lights, tickets, garishly-painted metal scraps, and other mementos of old time carny fun. I’m just waiting for the bits to begin creaking back into shape like at the end of the movie Christine.
The automaker generates an eye-popping $1 billion a year reusing or recycling materials that would otherwise be thrown away — everything from scrap steel and paint sludge to cardboard boxes and worn-out tires. It’s an unexpected but welcome revenue stream that comes from rethinking its approach to waste reduction.
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.]
Stools incorporating “rejected leather,” among the projects from Pepe Heykoop (earlier mention here):
Leather Loops is another reaction to waste leather. Fully rejected skins, faded by sunlight or with too many damages are used in this project. Like an l.p. the leather tops can easily be swapped within the family of frames.
Meet FoodStar and its courageous partner Andronico’s Community Market, a small Northern California grocery chain. Together, they are taking a chance on the idea that maybe we consumers aren’t as picky as most supermarkets seem to think we are.
Maybe we’d be willing to buy a slightly smaller apple that only has 37 percent red coverage instead of the requisite 40 percent needed to qualify as the “fancy” grade that stores usually buy (yes, it’s actually measured).
Maybe we consumers would even consider it a score to get a bag of Pink Lady apples for just 69 cents per pound.
The Maker Movement was born out of the desire to invent, design, create, hack, reinvent, and build things of one’s own hands. While people have certainly been doing this since, well, humans have existed, making things has taken off in the last several years largely due to new tools, digital and physical, that enable makers to design and build things on a small scale with little prior knowledge and only spare equipment. What has blossomed from this, is a raft of community knowledge such as that found on Instructables, as well as sites dedicated to selling niche craft items, like Etsy.
How is this good for green? [The idea is that] people value and will keep and use custom goods longer than mass-produced goods….
So, what’s your take? Will the Maker Movement lead us to greener pastures or is it just a way to pass the time?
Welcome to A Piece Of Cleveland. We love our city. We love its history, its character and its potential. We created APOC to preserve this rich history by telling a story and turning unwanted materials into furniture and other products that will increase their value.
Chris Kious … spent five years working for a Cleveland community development organization, working on an inventory of around 100 abandoned houses in just one neighborhood. Thanks to depopulation, foreclosures, and antiquated floor plans—think one bathroom, no garage—thousands of century-old homes have been left to crumble throughout the city. These properties correlate with lower property values for neighbors, higher crime rates, squatters, drugs—and so, according to the City of Cleveland Building and Housing Department, the city has proactively demolished 6,323 homes since 2006. It’s a needed service, but history is often lost as these old homes are razed. Just as importantly, a stream of raw material is trucked off with each demolition.
Elsewhere in Cleveland was designer P.J. Doran, an artist and craftsman who had been making “things” from garbage picks, leftovers and salvaged building materials since he was a kid. As he developed into a tradesman in the home construction industry, he was staggered and frustrated by the immense waste involved in new construction, and so he began designing and building custom furniture from reclaimed materials. His work was a spark of inspiration, and in 2007, Kious and Doran recognized an opportunity. A Piece of Cleveland got its start, and from carefully deconstructed homes on the city’s demolition list, new feature walls, counter tops, tables and chairs are reborn.