I wish every package was like my sugar bowl.
Pretty and permanent, gracing my table,
Reminiscent of Mom and Grand Mom,
Likely to serve my niece and her niece.
I wish every package was like my sugar bowl.
Refillable from sacks, all papery and crumply,
Emblazoned with logos from days gone by.
I wish every package was like my sugar bowl,
Producing no guilt, just pleasure,
Producing no waste, just pure functionality.
Having spent a large part of my career in retail management and design consulting, I was always struck by a comment one of the best heads of Kmart in that retailer’s heyday (BW – before Wal-Mart) who said “We’ll always have a $10 sweater at Kmart because people need a $10 sweater”. Now, you can’t knock this from a human standpoint, yet I was also always struck by the $5 lamp I saw in another big box store. Really, now that will go straight to the landfill, I thought. Later, I began buying collectible design furniture and even saw a few pieces I have on Star Trek! (it turns out one of the writer producers and I shopped at the same store) I thought, wow, my “stuff”* 400 years in the future. Then I thought what I was looking at wasn’t furniture most people believed was futuristic, even though it was from the present day, but to me it represented 400-year-old antiques. Imagine that, the Star Trek Enterprise was actually furnished with antiques. My stuff. Then I thought about that $5 lamp and thought about real antiques and the durability issue. Better to buy high quality and invest in design. That will lower your footprint now and for future generations. And you’ll enjoy your “stuff” more while you’re here on the planet for your brief visit in a universe full of “stuff”!
*For an entertaining “lecture” on your “stuff”, you’ll enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac
Love your perspective on this. The best “stuff” I have has been designed to last 400 years. I’m interested in design — and have often thought, as an antidote to disposables, what would designers come up with if the goal was to design products that people wouldn’t WANT to throw away. My grandmother’s sugarbowl — and the rest of her china and linens would fit that bill for me!
I can tell you one thing about design that is counter-intuitive. It is harder for a designer to design something simple and elegant versus something complex. People think for something to represent good design, it has to be ornate, complicated and complex. In reality, those attributes tend to hide a multitude of design and functionality flaws. Affectations have their place, too, of course, but good design is represented by simple, clean lines and function.
Jacquie – This was a lovely way to express appreciation for the utilitarian and emotional value of a special object, and a great illustration of the “Deep Meaning of Possessions” that I tried to address in another post on this website. Perhaps others would like to share a few words (or haiku?) about the form, function and/or special meaning of an item that helps them reduce waste (i.e., the “good stuff”).
The sugar bowl is not only a great representation of sentimental possessions, but also of investing in lasting pieces that are durable enough to be cherished by future generations. We live in a very disposable “Wal-Mart” culture where goods are bought and replaced as needed because of cheap manufacturing practices. This may be moving a little ways from the original topic here, but it makes me think about old Roman or Medieval architecture. Infrastructure back then was made to last because the rate of development and changing ideas were much slower than it is today, due to slower methods of communication and such. Today’s culture is more temporary, as though change and rapid development is expected. So what does this mean for today’s consumers? I personally try to invest in products that are of higher quality and can last me as long as possible. I hate clutter and having things that are not immediately being used so I buy less often and when I do buy, I try to find “classic” style products – things that will look good with nearly everything over time and space. Something like this sugar bowl will always sit pretty in your kitchen and you won’t want to let it go.
Great Poem. Thank you
This poem is a great way to express the comparison between lifestyles of today’s generation with those of the past. Living in a world that thrives on disposable and mass-manufactured goods, it’s interesting to think about how we live in our daily lives compared to those of our parents and grandparents. The days of sturdy toasters and grills that lasted 20 years has transitioned into the need to have that new colorful waffle maker that is $10 from Target. In a world where we have so many options for cheaper/disposable goods around every corner, it is hard to even find the places where I could go to get my own special, refillable sugar bowl. This may be another aspect to changing consumer behavior that is often overlooked: how do we create value in the goods we already have and curb the desire for the latest and greatest of what’s new? Perhaps it’s no longer providing the option for the $10 sweater Mark mentioned above, or selling better made and long-lasting goods in the front of the store before you even hit the $10 sweater. I personally like to use unique, one-of-a-kind products that I find that I know not every American can buy at Walmart the next day- and I take pride in that!