Yesterday as I brought a new light bulb out of the stock room to light yet another lamp at my place of work (for another 22 days) I held it in my hand, gazing at the filament, wondering why we still use this same incandescent globe we’ve been using for a hundred years. My questioning of the light bulb isn’t out the ordinary lately; I’ve been very contemplative, with my beloved NPR making me think deeply on a daily basis and all the shows and movies I’ve seen lately are making me challenge everything. And call it the reindeer effect, or synchronicity or what you will, but of course, today I was presented with a new documentary in exact response to my light bulb inquiry.
Pyramids of Waste, a free online documentary, speaks directly about the deliberate aim of businesses to create continued profits by making products flimsy and disposable rather than long-lasting and reliable. Parts fail and must be replaced, or better yet, the whole unit is disposed of and a new one is purchased. Little do we all know or care that the waste is largely landfilled or even shipped and dumped in third world countries.
I’m ready for a great challenge in 2011 and that is to live lighter. Less stuff, less consumption, more appreciation for the people and blessings in my life. Less indulgence, more balance. As I declutter my life, I like to get motivation and support from books like Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui and online guides like this great article on Hybrid Mom.
Here are some more ideas and resources that have been on my mind as I make an effort to live mindfully and not buy anything carelessly.
No Impact Man was an intriguing documentary about a man who decides to live, along with his wife and young daughter, consuming minimal energy, producing minimal waste, and buying nothing new if possible. His wife was a bit of a shopper, and their lifestyle was drastically impacted as they rode bikes instead of driving and cooked rather than eating out. Even though they definitely encountered challenges along the way, they made it a whole year on their plan and decided to continue with many of their new practices.
Joyful Furniture is a great shop in Boulder, Colorado that refurbishes old furniture and gives it a new life. What is your favorite place to find great upcycled items? I also frequent a local ARC Thrift store and Unique Thrift Store, both in Westminster, CO to get any clothes or kitchen items we need. Browsing at a Thrift Store is like a meditation to me, and I usually try to keep it under $20, considering how much of what I buy will probably end up back there within the year. Decent extension of the life-cycle though!
1st Dibs is an online purveyor of high-end vintage pieces and true antiques. I love perusing their selection, though it’s an exercise in “if I had a million dollars” type of design. At least when you choose long-lasting, substantial pieces, you set your space up for a lifetime or more of use and love.
Architectural Digest has great tips and resources for where designers find their one-of-a-kind decor.
At Etsy.com you can explore all sorts of items that are handmade, recycled, and/or vintage. It’s a great way to support small business and get unique items that you’ll love for years to come.
Cradle to Cradle is a book I have flipped through but am reading in earnest soon (borrowing from a friend, sweet!). It looks like it should be required reading for all designers, but also anyone who cares about sustainability and wants to learn more about the life of a product.