Tuesday 31 January 2012


The face of our kitchen bar.  Rotten spruce girt from a torn down pole barn.

I have recently seen some blogging about re-purposing and I thought that I would add to the discussion.

What is money worth?

I am not a scrounger at heart.
I do not like to dumpster-dive.
I feel uncomfortable sifting through the remnants of waste looking for treasure.
That doesn't stop me though.

Dropped and forgotten.
Draws warm air into
our utility room
One of the most short-sighted trends of post-modernity is the engineered obsolescence of consumer goods.  Utilized to drive a money economy, poorly made and non-serviceable items have put us on a fast track to deplete energy and natural resources.  Under-paid labour abroad has compounded the issue by making it cheaper to replace rather than repair.  The introduction of recycling programs has had the effect of green-washing the underlying root causes of excessive consumption.  We feel less guilty now that we believe that our spent consumption is being recycled rather than filling a landfill.  And so our energy and resources continue to dwindle while the demand increases.  A perfect capitalist dream of demand exceeding supply.
                    So it goes.

When recycling was introduced, it was known as the three Rs; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
What happened to Reduce, and Reuse?  Were they dragged into the dark and beaten for failing to drive the economy?

And so those who choose to reduce and reuse are scroungers and dumpster-divers, or worse, hoarders.
Picking through the trash still bears a stigma of shame associated with poverty.
Will it ever be developed into a mainstream market of social responsibility?
Better not answer that one.

Flipped a tiffany upside down.
I am fortunate to have learned a trade that involves custom cutting and fitting, and using what is on hand in order to get the job done.  And so, maybe it is simply a matter of skill and education that stays the hand that wishes to reuse or repair an item.  There is a remarkable degradation of mechanical skill in the average household.  People have focused their knowledge to achieve career success, and that has left many at the mercy of the manufacturers.

We have an admirable collection of things here.  I say 'things' while others may say junk.  I feel prepared while they rely on the stores to stay open.  It may take some time to hunt through the bins and piles but when I need something special, it's a good bet that I'll have it.  Some things are in short supply like 5/16" fasteners, but otherwise, years of keeping what others would discard has made us more self-reliant.

I'll share my little rule with you.
If I can think of one use for an item within thirty-seconds, then I'll keep it.  Given more time I would easily be able to use it.  If I cannot think of anything at all in that time, then I discard the item.  Too much is too much and you need to learn where to draw the line.

Bed spring holds scrap wood.

Of course, if you live in a condo, then you likely don't have the ability to store scavenged goods.  It pays to have a go-to source of cast-off items even if you do have to pay a little.  There is a junk store in our area that sells the goods but returns the profits to the community.  It's a great source of raw materials and functioning appliances alike.

When you must buy new, remember that you are voting.
Vote for rugged quality.
Vote for serviceability.
Vote for longevity.
Vote for responsible resource use.
Vote for ethical manufacturing.
Kira rescued this old fridge drawer.

I like to get angry with the system.  But the system is the symptom.
The consumer needs to accept the responsibility.
More importantly, the consumer needs to be responsible.

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