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
Robert Kalinkin, a Lithuanian fashion designer, recently opened a pop-up shop that uses 24km (15 miles) of old cinema film. The film is woven together to create a tapestry of texture over the walls, ceilings and other elements on display—occasionally offering a backlit glimpse of the films’ contents.
Students and staff at Newcastle University have created a pop-up cafe built entirely out of upcycled waste, including plastic drink bottles and cardboard boxes. The team spent three months designing and constructing the cross disciplinary project, which was contributed to by engineers, architects and social scientists.
The U-Cafe was designed to challenge our perception of waste and explore new ways of creating sustainable buildings. It features chairs made from plastic bottles, walls constructed using cardboard boxes, and staff aprons made out of recycled plastic bags.
Consisting of four wooden legs with some adjustable ratchet buckles, you can create a comfortable place to sit with old newspapers, clothes, stuffed animals, a tree stump, a crate, just about whatever you can imagine…
Paulo Goldstein’s work is a celebration of repair, inspired by complexity, errors and its consequences. Goldstein developed a repair methodology that uses elements of broken systems to repair broken objects. His repaired objects reflect and question the environment that has created them.
E-Source. A sustainable cable recycling system for small-scale recyclers in developing countries, E-Source consists of an innovative bicycle-powered cable granulator and an approach to separating copper and plastic using water.
Un-burnt copper can be sold for up to 20% more than burnt, providing a better income for workers and much healthier working conditions. The designs will be made available to local workshops who would produce the machines and then sell to recyclers.
A beachside kiosk in Torquay, Australia sets itself apart as a local architectural landmark by artfully making use of reclaimed flood barriers as its exterior walls. Designed by Tony Hobba Architects, the Third Wave Kiosk stands out on the shoreline whilst blending visually with the landscape, thanks to the use of upcycled sheet piles.
Knstrct reports that they were used as temporary formwork for sandbanking overflowing rivers during flooding. The architects wrapped them around the building to create a weathered, wave-like effect.
Today we’re excited to share a guest post from Alexandra Pappalardo, a graduate student at the Savannah College of Art Design who recently completed a very Unconsumption-y course there, addressing new ways to think about what often seems a disposable object: the pen.
The disposable pen is such an afterthought for so many of us that an estimated 1.5 billion pens are thrown away each year in the United States alone. That’s 48 pens per second. How many of these, do you think, were empty?
As a masters student in the Design for Sustainability program at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I was part of a class, taught by professor Scott Boylston, that researched behaviors surrounding pen usage and disposal. Our task: “radically altering people’s perceptions of the disposable pen.” We poked into our classmates’ pen cases, baited students with free candy, distributed surveys, observed and created conversations. Inspired by other cases of upcycling, we designed and prototyped new product solutions for dead pens.
Finally, we staged a one-day “pentervention.” We lined the walls of our design building with interactive posters, set up a station for abandoned pens to be adopted, and not even professors were safe from the enigmatic and compulsive pen bandit. Much of it was silly, to be sure, but it wasn’t ignored and it didn’t produce the glassy-eyed effect of a shaming environmental lecture. Using all of our foundational work and the results from Pentervention Day, we created a website — www.pentervention48.com.
On the site you can delve into our research findings, check out product prototypes, find out what students wrote on our art pieces, and watch original videos designed to both entertain and educate. You’ll never look at the disposable pen the same way again.
— Alexandra Pappalardo
Pictured, from top: Pentervention Day; Pen Play: A necklace from expired pens; a flier with tear-off tabs that include suggestions for pen reuse; an invitation to give your pen more meaning — and “pensonality.” See the Pensonality site for more.
If you’re a student or professor with a project dealing with creative use or mindful consumer behavior that you’d like to share with our audience, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re fans of reusable items, especially things that can be used instead of plastic wrap and other disposable, single-use plastic products.
Beeswax-infused fabric is such a reusable item for food storage. Waxy cloth can be used to cover vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread, and other items, including those in bowls. The warmth of your hands helps to mold the material around the food you wish to wrap or over the top of a bowl or other container. The waxy cloth can be rinsed off using water and mild soap, if necessary, hung to air-dry, and it’s ready for use again.
The Art of Doing Stuff blog features this simple tutorial for making your own sheets of beeswax wrap; all you need are pieces of cotton fabric, beeswax, an oven, and a tray.
A similar food-storage product, Abeego, has been made in Canada for the past several years. The folks who make Abeego wrap even put their scrap pieces to use, turning them into useful items such as business cards and twist-ties.
For helpful wax-wrap care and use tips, check out Abeego’s Web site here.