It’s the beginning of a new year and a new decade. There are a lot of wonderful things to look forward to in 2020 and the years coming; all have to do with slowing down, developing appreciation for quality and the art of patient waiting (a.k.a. delayed gratification).
These are some of my top picks for this year and beyond to lessen the anxiousness of hurry, deconstructing the arbitrary construct of time and developing an appreciation for the value of quality and the health of our planet.
Get Off Your Computer, Get Off Your Cell Phone and Get Outside!
Several scientific studies from the last 2-3 years have shown that spending 30 minutes or more outside a day increases overall health and cognitive abilities. Either in an expanse of nature, a small park or a tree lined street helps the body to relax and the mind to become more focused. Take a moment every day to take a short (or long) walk outside and just look at your surroundings, observe your environment, window shop or take a seat in the park and watch what goes by. This means that you must put your cell phone away. Turn it off, don’t allow it to distract you from connecting to the outdoor environment.
Brick & Mortar Shopping = Slow Shopping.
Get away from Amazon for a bit and go to an actual store to browse or buy. Slow shopping engages more of our senses: sight, touch and smell. The more we are engaged with our bodily senses our minds become focused, increasing our awareness of present time, alleviating future & past stress thinking. Much like being in a state of meditation.
Slow shopping is not necessarily about making a purchase, it is about taking the time to look at, feel and experience the retail environment and its wares. However, if you find that special exciting item, book or d’objet, purchase it from that store, NOT ONLINE. Think of paying full price as a “finder’s fee”. Shopping locally and offline supports small businesses and is the greatest help you can give to keep the American economy healthy.
We have come full circle regarding ‘fast food’ and fast fashion’, now it’s time to take a look at ‘fast furniture’.
The “cheaper” the item is priced the greater the negative environmental impact and human labor practices, also known as blood money. If it is too good to be true then it is indeed too good to be true. Think for a moment; how can that upholstered swivel chair only cost $29.99? How about that dresser for only $50.00? How is it possible and why have we become so cost driven that we are blinded to the reality of the real cost (depletion of resources, pollution and human exploitation) to make something so cheap?
The solution to our wasteful throw away culture is to slow down and take more time to understand how things are made.
People are starting to pay attention to how often their items need to be replaced, usually within a year or two due to shoddy construction and poor materials. Also, the amount of plastic waste that is created with those materials being thrown out after such a short period of use has all of us headed towards a “pass the point of no return” tipping point. How can we stave off this speeding train of pollution apocalypse?
Slow furniture is one solution. Buying less and the retro practice of re-use/upcycling.
Upcycling has been around for a while but it is finally sinking into the psyche of the masses.
Again, Get Outside. Go to a flea market, consignment store or estate sale. Take a 2nd or 3rd look at what your parent’s may have left you. It takes more time but slowing down and delaying gratification will allow creativity to blossom. Seek the help of a designer or furniture restorer to help you realize your vision to refurbish or repurpose your finds or for furniture you already have.
If you cannot bear the idea of living with something used or your parent’s leftovers simply make you nauseous then the best practice is to purchase new furniture made in the USA, Canada and Western Europe exclusively.
Will your slow furniture be monetarily more expensive than a cheapened, possibly toxic, plagiarized knock-off made somewhere in Asia? Yes!
Will your slow furniture take longer to arrive at your home or place of business because it is made to order and from local ecologically safe materials? Yes!
Will your slow furniture support fair labor by only purchasing from countries with those practices in place? Yes!
Will your slow furniture help protect against de-forestation and continued plastic pollution of our oceans? Yes!
Paying more upfront for quality means purchasing fewer items that last. This will save you money by not having to replace things as often but more importantly it will save our environment and increase human quality of life by supporting fair trade and fair labor practices.