I wonder about the things that make it so easy for me to throw something away, even though it is still functional or close to being functional.
One reason I come up with is that I am so disconnected from the source of the things I buy. I have no comprehension of how many millions of years it took to form the materials that make up that thing I now have. I have no appreciation for the amount of somebody’s life that went into designing and creating the thing I now wear.
Another reason is that I haven’t developed the skills or mindset to prolong the life of the things I purchase. In regard to clothing, I can barely sew a button on. And when it comes to anything that plugs into the electricity network I am useless. It would be easy to blame my culture for this, whatever that would actually mean. I am constantly marketed to, encouraged to purchase the newest thing, making the old thing I own redundant and inferior. I earn so that I don’t have to repair – I can just buy a new one.
Both of these reasons feel lazy and extravagant. They don’t feel justified.
Karen Ellis is living proof that we can change our mindset, buck our culture, learn the skills of reuse, repair and upcycling, and save a hell of a lot of money in the process. She and her husband Danny live a frugal life, sourcing most of their material needs from the kinds of places where the things I throw out end up. Karen documents the way she lives on her Rude Record blog and Facebook page, helping others to learn the skills and develop the mindset she has honed over a number of years.
I hope you are also inspired by Karen to move a small way towards living a life of consciousness in the use and reuse of the material things we bring into our lives.