In doing a bit of research on this topic I discovered a rather ironic twist. It seems that the birth of America’s Disposable culture began right smack dab in the town where I currently reside (for a week more), you guessed it, Troy NY. Here is a bit of history:
Hannah Montague of Troy wearied of having to wash her husband Orlando’s shirts when only the collar was dirty. So one day in 1827, she snipped off a collar, laundered it, and then sewed it back on, creating the world’s first detachable collar. Recognizing the business opportunity stemming from his wife’s ingenuity, Orlando opened a factory overlooking the Hudson that produced collars, dickeys, and cuffs. Soon, factories started making these shirt pieces out of paper. In 1872, 150 million paper shirt collars and cuffs were produced in the U.S., and by 1886 more than 8,000 workers were employed in the trade in Troy alone.
you can read the full article here. I have lived in “collar city” for six years now, never knowing it was the harbinger of a bad, long lasting trend.
So many of you have written with your thoughts and ideas on the matter, and I am excited to see there seems to be a movement of people who want to only own objects that a) have meaning, b) are long lasting and c) contribute to sustainability in some way.
We have figured out that there is much beauty to be had in living minimally. In paring down our clothes (all of mine now fit mostly into a regular sized suitcase), I have learned how greatly it simplifies your whole existence. There are not enough things to overwhelm you, laundry is a breeze, you don’t have too many choices to make when dressing in the morning, and mostly you feel “lighter”, (especially when moving). Think about what it would be like to live as if you were travelling, able to fit most of your belongings into a car. If I get something new, the rule is it has to replace something else.
Some other objects to consider (some have been mentioned in the comments already):
-pens. I have decided to begin using only refillable pens, if you have any suggestions that are good for drawing let me know. A few years ago I was using the rotring Art pen, but I found over time it clogged badly and I had to replace it. I am wondering about the “piston fill converter” for it. I’m willing to give it another go.
-reusable fabric maxi pads. I like these quite well, and there are so many to choose from now.
-many people wrote about Cydwoq shoes. My husband and I wear these as our main footwear (yes they are expensive, we only have a few pairs of shoes to our name). They last for at least ten years, you only need to replace the soles now and then. If you call the company, the phone is often answered by the owner Rafi. Someone also mentioned Trippen shoes from Germany.
-razors. A generous reader is sending my husband a Merkur razor (he had an extra one lying around), lucky for us.
-there are some excellent long lasting items to be had at Mr. Lees General Store and Haberdashery in Vancouver (perfect timing).
-Shepherd’s Dream wool mattresses. Portable, earth friendly, non-toxic, completely sustainable, and they can last a lifetime. These answer all of my needs.
-I love my le creuset dutch oven which I got on sale at Winners many years ago. These pots you can hand down to your grandchildren. I do 99 % of my cooking in it.
-While on the subject of cooking, there is an excellent minimal list of “all the kitchen stuff you need” in the beginning of “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters. Basically I have adopted the same kitchen system. We have three knives that do everything, a bread knife, a large cutting knife and a paring knife. Given the amount of cooking I do (every day) I can tell you it functions beautifully.
a resource to peruse:
-Everett Brogue wrote an ebook called The Art of Being Minimalist. I have only read the 30 page preview, but I like what I saw.
-this is an excellent guide to living plastic free.
keep the ideas coming! I think I’m going to put together a resource guide (once I’m settled that is). All of these suggestions are too good.