November 7, 2007

Anti-products: DIY

50 years ago, if something broke, you fixed it -- or hired someone to fix it for you. Makes sense, right? So what changed? In its insatiable greed, big industry has taught us to covet the latest and greatest of everything, and designed our gadgets to be tough to fix, and cheaper to replace. (Think iPod batteries.) We've become so addicted to cheap third-world labor, and thus distanced from methods of production, that we forget the cost of throwing something out: It goes into a landfill in somebody's neighborhood. FOREVER. Sometimes even if you thought you recycled it.

Which is where the DIY aesthetic comes in. Today it's a trend among the young and creative, spawning magazines like the ingenious ReadyMade. Back in my parents' childhood, it was a normal way of life. People bought kits to make their own radios and toy train sets, and sewed their own clothes. With a better understanding of how things were made, it was simple to repair them when something went wrong -- and it was definitely easier to fix a hole in your dress than to sew a new one! It's time to grab our shoe polish, our screwdrivers, our knitting needles, and start a quiet revolution against consumerism.

A major gathering place for the DIY revolutionaries is the delightful Etsy, a trading place to buy and sell handmade goods along with the supplies to make them yourself. Check it out!

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