Sustainability and The Story of Stuff

We all know the term quality over quantity, but how often do you stop to think about your stuff and where it all came from?

Throughout early adulthood, I carted (often unopened) boxes of clothes and household items from place to place (and I moved A LOT!), while collecting more and more stuff.

And I wasn't the only one. Statistics show that 1 out of 10 Americans own a storage unit and that self-storage has turned into a $38 billion dollar industry.

It wasn't until a decade ago, after watching The Story of Stuff, that I decided to make a change. It didn’t happen overnight, but little by little, I’ve changed my habits.

I’m by no means a perfectly conscious consumer today, but I pay attention and think twice before buying cheap junk that will end up in a landfill. And I understand that the landfill is just the last part of the equation. There are upstream impacts that we often forget about.

A few of the most eye opening takeaways from The Story of Stuff were:

  • The US only makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 30% of the resources on on our planet. And did you know that on average, we only keep 1% of what we consume past the 6 month mark? (Yikes.)

  • The main goal of consumerism is to keep prices down, and in turn, sell more product. The only way to do this is to externalize costs and use third world resources where we don’t see the impact in order to offset our pricing. This means the people of those countries are the ones who suffer the most from our cheap products, through poor living wages and polluted land due to waste from manufacturing.

  • Companies often resort to two methods to keep products moving off the shelves:
  1. Planned obsolescence, or purposefully making products have a limited shelf life… like all those old iPhone chargers that can no longer be used because the plug has changed.

  2. Perceived obsolescence, or making products look different over time which creates social pressure to buy the newest model to keep up with trends.

Luckily, conscious consumption has gained traction over the years thanks to campaigns like The Story of Stuff Project (and many others). There is growing awareness about fast fashion and the true cost of our goods. 

So how is Jo Rose Design taking responsibility?

  • I work hard to research and understand the origin of the materials I use to create my products, and make responsible choices about where they are sourced from. (To be fully transparent -- as a new business owner, I am learning that this is easier said than done, and this will always be a work in progress. If anyone has resources to share, please let me know!)

  • I am actively working to incorporate smaller product designs that use fabric and leather remnants to reduce material waste.

  • My designs are timeless instead of trendy. I place a strong emphasis on durability and construction and details that I know will hold up to daily use (to beat that statistic of things ending up in the landfill within 6 months!).

  • I am committed to making decisions with intention that will create a sustainable business in the long run. 

And I aim to grow this list longer over time!

Do these actions resonate with you?  What do you look for in a sustainable and ethical brand?

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