From time to time I ponder my own dichotomy of being, on the one hand a very unmaterial person and, on the other, a craftsman trying to sell things to other people. Over time I’ve realised that there is a difference between ‘having stuff’ and ‘having too much stuff’ – you’ll have to find your own place where you feel comfortable on that scale.
What kind of stuff you have matters too, how much you value and gain enjoyment from the things you own and how much of it is disposable tat which simply passes through your life without leaving any trace.
At shows I often talk to visitors about the ‘price per pleasure’ principle – a handmade wooden spoon for £35 seems expensive unless you consider that you’ll use it every day. For that first year, the additional sensory enjoyment of using that spoon instead of the mass-produced alternative costs you 9.5p. The spoon will of course last much longer, getting better and better with time and use but that’s all free.
Recently I came across the New Materialism, a movement aiming to create a new relationship with things. There’s an interesting booklet which you can buy or read online for free which discusses in more depth the pleasures of owning, making and mending. Here is their manifesto, which they encourage you to adapt, expand and make your own:
Manifesto for the new materialism
1. Liking ‘stuff’ is okay, healthy even – we can learn to love and find pleasure in the material world
2. Wherever practical and possible develop lasting relationships with things by having and making nothing that is designed to last less than 10 years
3. Get to know things – before you acquire something, find out at least 3 things about it
4. Love stuff – mend, maintain and re-use things until it is no longer possible, then recycle them
5. Get active – only acquire something new if you are also learning a new, useful skill
6. Share – look at all your things, think about what your friends might need or could benefit from, and share at least one thing a week
And an invitation by the authors:
In the run up to Christmas each year a ‘Buy Nothing Day’ is held. We would like to go one step further in reform of the month that has come to be synonymous with the old materialism. We would like to see the four weeks before Christmas become a ‘Make, Mend and Share Month.’ If this happens, we think there is a strong chance that we might arrive at Christmas Day feeling happier, more sociable, and considerably less in debt.