Advertising critic James Twitchell has a saying: The problem with American culture is not that it’s too materialistic. The problem is that we are not materialistic enough. By that he means that Americans don’t truly care about things. What we care about is getting new things — constantly upgrading to the bigger and better and more fashionable.
The blog Unconsumption sets itself out against this tide, looking at products beyond that pivotal moment of purchase to how things are actually used, reused, and repurposed. If this sounds awfully theoretical, it shouldn’t. Think sculptures created from toilet paper rolls and tires, repurposed business cards, and coin purses fashioned out of soda bottles-along with reports on recycling, bike repair pointers, and thrifty tips.
Rob Walker, the man behind the “Consumed” column for the New York Times Magazine and author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, came up with the project. We think it deserves your attention, even if Mr. Walker hadn’t written the foreword to our book and therefore become our hero.
Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine .