I’m a minimalist at heart.
The less possessions, the better.
In most cases, I subscribe to the – one version of something is enough – philosophy. I am certainly not a fan of “trend” purchasing, a scenario where an item is likely to last only one season. I’d rather invest more money on a quality product that has in-built longevity. I think that this ultimately translates into less items finding their way into landfills. In addition, it also means supporting quality, often ethical, non mass-produced manufacturing.
But despite my best efforts, I do succumb to a bit of retail temptation now and then. The Ikea marketplace is one destination that somehow magically induces me into a nonsensical, buying frenzy. Last week, whilst traipsing its hallowed aisles, I fell prey to their decorative, glass candles. On special for 99c each. Who could resist, right? Fortunately, an innate self-discipline meant I only bought two, not a dozen. But, as expected, I was left with a dilemma after they quickly expired. What to do with the two lovely thyme-coloured glass containers? Throw into the glass recycling bin? I had a better solution. Re-use! I simply scraped out the remaining candle wax, gave them a good clean, placed them on my bathroom vanity and filled them with the bathroom cosmetics that usually clutter the counter. Simple, but effective. And it felt good! Ascribing to this particular philosophy also translates into my personal love of all things old and vintage.
When I moved to Sydney, I became a bit obsessed with “Hard Pick Up” days which are local, council-managed waste collection days. Sydney-siders are provided particular days when they are allowed to put their unwanted, “hard” items on the kerb, for scheduled pick-up. As a self-confessed scrounger, this is a very exciting day because it often means potentially claiming a recyclable gem. I’ve found some wonderful items. A bentwood chair, an old stool which has become a table for a pot plant. Two old kitchen chairs are about to be sanded and re-painted to become bedroom features. Conversely, it is also rather depressing when I witness the sheer volume of stuff that people accumulate and quite shockingly, what they consider to be “disposable”. Just the other day, a friend mentioned that she was looking for a stroller for her toddler. I suggested we go for a walk on a Hard Pick Up day, and look for one. She was sceptical. Suffice to say, within a few blocks we came across one – as good as new. It now has new home, but it does beg the question – why did it get tossed out? Why don’t people share these items once used?
While I was in Cape Town recently, I came across a wonderful store in Woodstock called Recreate. Katie is a lover of “junk” and vintage. But more significantly, she creatively re-works many seemingly throw-away items into unique pieces. Old galvanised steel ice buckets into seating, gin bottles into lampshades, suitcases into chairs. Recreate really demonstrates how beautiful things can be made from seemingly useless, past-their-sell-by-date items. (See photographs below)
I also recently had the pleasure of interviewing two dynamic Sydney-siders, Sarah K (artist and designer) and Liane Rossler (artist, entrepeneur and co-founder of Dinosaur Designs – I blogged about them on Elle Deco a few years back) for who have launched Supercyclers, an initiative designed to raise awareness about waste. They suggest that through thoughtful and innovative design, we can transform waste into useful, beautiful products. I wrote about them for Indesign Live, where I also talk about the people they admire, including Henry Wilson, who takes re-purposing to another level. Another environmentally-sensitive Aussie initiative that I love is Keep Cup. I featured this company while back and maintain that it is one of the finest examples of clever, responsible, sustainable design. In essence, it is a simple, well executed product that keeps thousands of paper coffee cups out of landfills and increases awareness about daily consumption and waste. Re-use. Re-cycle. Reclaim. Upcycle. Re-purpose. Supercycle. Re-imagine. Share. Pass it on. The bottom line is that we need to embrace, activate and live these buzzwords.
Our environment deserves better.