I have a friend who’s a retired beekeeper and all-around do-it-yourselfer. Having grown up on a farm and worked in the home renovation business, he’s often said to me, "Don’t throw anything out. Ever."
While there are a lot exceptions I can think of to his blanket statement, the underlying truth is, we can’t always foresee what use we my find for stuff in the future.
There’s been a wave of "decluttering" over the past decade that tracked with the housing and renovation boom leading to the 2008 crash. But since then, there’s been a rising wave of re-purposing things that’s telling us something.
It’s time give some of that "junk" a second chance.
The re-purposing renaissance
There’s a growing movement of artists, designers, DIYers and Makers that are in the market for all kinds of bits of things from old clockworks, gauges and typewriters, to furniture and doors.
Why? Well here are just a few reasons.
- The DIY phenomenon has spread everywhere – from fashion to furniture.
- Re-using stuff saves money and keeps it out of landfills
- Steampunk is going mainstream in 2013
The past five years has revealed an inconvenient truth about bankers, politicians and big business – they really don’t have our best interests at heart. People have essentially lost faith & trust in these institutions – for good reason – they’ve broken a long-standing social contract with the people they were supposed to serve.
A lot of leading indicators suggest that the economic "recovery" is actually a long gradual course correction that will fundamentally reshape our relationship with energy, the environment, and scarce resources. Along with that, the DIY movement, enabled by mobile and global communication, means we’re sharing ideas and learning how to make more things ourselves.
Treasures in the attic
Depending on your age, you (a) have been or (b) will be – responsible for sorting through the contents of your parents home or that of another relative at some point in your life. You’re bound to come across things they kept that are old and maybe don’t even work anymore – they may not appear to have much value to you – but they just might be exactly what someone else is looking for.
Some of those old "fiddly bits" like nuts, bolts, gears, knobs, locks, buttons, brackets, brass and thing-a-mabobs could represent some cash in your pocket. If you can’t see yourself using this stuff to make a funky retro lamp or to pimp out your keyboard, then consider offering them up for grabs on eBay or Craigslist. There are buyers out there and they’ll find you.
Looking back to predict the future
When you wander through an old house and look at the woodwork and furniture, or feel the solid heft and mechanical practicality of 19th century tools and machinery – you can get a sense of the pride of workmanship, rugged durability, and inherent beauty – meant to last a lifetime. It’s time to restore that kind of quality and pride to our lives.
I’ve no doubt that we’re approaching the end of the ‘throw away" age of cheap, impersonal and unrepairable stuff, churned out by the coal-powered mega factories. Large Corporations have lost their way – their priority is maximizing shareholder profits – employees are an expense, and customers are the revenue. It’s unsustainable on every level.
As more jobs are replaced by robots, and human labour is otherwise de-valued to meet the bottom line, we’ll need to find a new sense of purpose and ways to bring meaning to our lives.
Creating and making things we feel are valuable helps restore that purpose.