I find it depressing that, in our rush to eco-ize every aspect of our lives, we have lost touch with what would really go a long way toward making our consumption sustainable: common sense.
Here’s an example, culled from an article in the Boston Globe by “green blogger” Dara Olmstead (you can read the entire article here). It seems the writer doesn’t like to use paper towels post-hand-wash in a public restroom. But she comes up with a solution:
"Luckily for me, Linda Lannon, a South Shore native, has brought a more socially acceptable option to the market. PeopleTowels are small hand towels you keep in your bag or purse or near your desk and use instead of paper towels or hand dryers. The idea comes from Japan, where, Lannon said, it is the standard in several areas for people to carry their own hand towels.
I was skeptical, but I’ve been using a PeopleTowel for a few weeks and love it. I’m sure it will take time for them to catch on, but for those who want to take one more step to reduce waste, this is a great option (and a nice gift). The towels are small, soft, lightweight, and hip.”
So now it’s considered revolutionary to carry around your own towel? Wait - wasn’t it just a few years ago that people (younger than 60 anyway) abandoned the idea of carrying handkerchiefs around? And weren’t handkerchiefs endlessly handy for things like…I don’t know…wiping your nose or your hands, or any number of things that need wiping, before they were replaced with paper towels and personal packs of tissues?
All this eco-activity can sometimes be just downright nonsensical. All of our homes are filled with handtowels already - but now we are supposed to run out and buy yet another product, this one with the bizarre moniker of “PeopleTowel” in order to convince ourselves that we are at the cutting edge of both saving the planet and design? (But the PeopleTowel is hand-printed with soy ink! I can hear you protesting.)
I have an idea: how about we dig through the piles of vintage handkerchiefs left lying around at yard sales and flea markets by our grandmothers, give them a thorough washing and whip one of them out the next time we need to give our hands a little wipe. Brilliant.
…about this show, but here is a great review of 9 by Design (which I linked to last week) in the online magazine Slate. Click the post title to go directly to the review - it perfectly captures the love/hate dynamic this show evokes.
…and let me know what you think. As for me, my sense of fascination with this show will grow exponentially with each episode, I’m sure. I love the idea of self-taught designers from Georgia blazing through the permitting process of erecting entire buildings out of the rubble of empty lots in Manhattan, of all places. But the fact that these same designers have the birth control ethos of mid-western homeschoolers? A combination too unbelievable to miss. If you’re into design, check it out, and then stuff your face in your pillow and cry yourself to sleep that you haven’t managed to create amazing house after amazing house, all while pro-creating like a bohemian bunny.
For me, the thrill of a good find gets strangely personal when it comes to vintage books. And by vintage I don’t mean collector’s items, rare titles that have devoted followings and a relatively prescribed monetary value. I mean the forgotten - often to the point of moldering - odds and ends sort of books that linger in attics and shelves until they are carted away to whatever circle of hell books go to when they die.