It might be middle age firmly setting in or being responsible for a young child, but I find myself thinking a lot more about The World. The times we live in are arguably the best ever, by any number of measures. Coming from our deep-seated survival instinct, as humans it is in our nature to constantly survey the landscape and look for risk or imminent danger, and in turn we can always find something to worry or complain about. Undoubtedly there are many who are struggling in the world in more or less extreme ways, frustratingly so, as I always think we should be more open and enlightened at this stage of human history. All the mistakes have been made multiple times, but we seem to cycle through them over and over, never really changing.
So what on earth has any of this to do with Kitchenaid mixers? Now I come to one of the big crises in modern times, the environment. Anyone who has ever moved house knows the accumulation of “stuff” even after a few short years can be overwhelming and the more people who live in the household, the worse it is. We decided with our impending move to take the opportunity to downsize, in particular to get rid of all the baby and toddler things we won’t need anymore, plus some things around the house. In addition, we have to get rid of electrical appliances due to the differences in American and European electrical systems.
After months of selling, giving away and, in some cases, disposing of items no one wanted, I’ve had to take another look at “stuff” and the role it plays in our life and our world. Moving highlights what a mess we are making of the planet. Even with the adoption of the German philosophy of decorating with minimalism, buying higher quality but far fewer things for home and fashion and having a child who has a very reasonably sized toy collection, we still seem to be leaving behind far too much debris in our move. I’m happy that we could re-home much of it, but there will still be items that are going to end up at the dump. Forever. That never biodegrade and clutter up the environment that is already overloaded with our human garbage.
And please don’t get me started on “planned obsolescence”. I find the concept infuriating. Most of our appliances are kitchen appliances. We love to cook. The number of things that have broken 1-2 years after purchase and heavy use are a frustrating financial issue. They are also an environmental issue. Good luck with replacing or fixing anything. Even if money is no object, you simply cannot find many companies who will do it. “Just buy a new one, it’s cheaper”. (Here’s looking at you Kenwood, but you’re not alone).
I’m not sure what all the answers are, but we have a chance to do better in our new home. So here is my manifesto for our new start. I will be scrutinizing anything before even bringing it into our new home at all. Less is more. I will make use of second hand markets. Less new, more old. Even better, make it very old because, you know, they don’t make things like they used to. I will support local over global, knowing this can be increasingly challenging. Lastly, I will look for quality over cheap, planned obsolescence. This is also getting increasingly difficult to find but brands like Miele and Kitchenaid still seem to get it right.
Finally, I’d love any of your resources and tips for getting off to the right start in America with as an environmentally friendly lifestyle as possible.