Discards, dumping, downsizing, and the afterlife of our stuff
May 25, 2019 1:16 PM   Subscribe

"I slowly began to understand that people in consumption-based societies assemble their identities via stuff, and become very emotional when those identities – and that stuff- is discarded in ways that don’t match their values. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that consumers actually care more about how their stuff is discarded, than how it is manufactured." Adam Minter discusses where stuff comes from, and how we feel about where it goes, in an interview with Discard Studies.
posted by MonkeyToes (44 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Before the owners would let go, they needed reassurance that the stuff will be valued and reused in ways that conform to their values.

This is understandable, but it's also easy to see it as a pretty childish and self-centered delusion. This stuff, my stuff, is different from all the other stuff, which is junk, which is trash. This stuff is special! Whatever the normal way to handle stuff like this is just won't do - it doesn't conform to my values.
posted by thelonius at 1:31 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Related, and very interesting:

Downstream: The Afterlife of American Junk [Harper's, June 2019]:

Shipping [on the Miami River] operates according to a different imperative. Where most shippers have tried to eliminate labor wherever possible, “this business,” Dubin explained, “is all labor”: labor to source the goods from flea markets and dumpsters, to sort and repackage them for export; labor to carry cargo to the docks, or to sell it to a stevedore with a side hustle; labor to price and classify each item accepted on board; and labor to write out carbon-paper receipts in longhand. The waterway’s five-and-a-half-mile course weaves between scrapyards and boat repair shops before slipping downtown and out into Biscayne Bay. A river of secondhand goods follows the same route, out of South Florida’s sprawl into the Caribbean. As one Coast Guard commander told me, the Miami River is essentially “the thrift shop of the maritime industry.”
posted by ryanshepard at 1:31 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


> consumers actually care more about how their stuff is discarded, than how it is manufactured

I guess I'm slightly surprised if anyone is surprised by this. I mean, the manufacturing impact of an item can reasonably be placed on the manufacturer of said item; if they're dumping PCBs in the river during the production process, that's going to (rightly) come back on them. But we make it very easy—the dominant model, really—for manufacturers to push the disposal problem onto consumers. So that's the consumer's responsibility, and it's probably not altogether a bad thing that people are putting some thought into it.

This is, all in all, a pretty shitty system; we should require manufacturers to take on the downstream disposal cost rather than let it be pushed onto consumers, who are often ill-equipped to make responsible decisions even if they have the option, which frequently they don't.

Why is it that I have to pay a fee to responsibly dispose of tires—creating a perverse incentive to just leave them in a ditch or bury them somewhere—rather than paying that fee upfront when I buy them new, so that they could be disposed of for "free"? Same with batteries, consumer electronics, and basically everything else. We should be capturing the responsible disposal cost in the original purchase price.

Not only would this be better for the environment (which includes people; it's not like the impact of improperly disposed tires, batteries, iPhones, chemicals, etc. falls solely on Horned Owls or whatever), but I think it would also take a cognitive and emotional burden off of consumers. I'm sure I'm not the only one who despises buying new things when it requires getting rid of something, because the disposal of the old thing is actually much, much harder than buying the new thing. (Case in point: I've wanted new furniture for ages, but have held off because buying new furniture is a fucking pain in the ass. Not actually buying the new stuff, that's trivial, but getting rid of the old furniture. You have to either haul it out to the curb and look like Larry The Cable Guy's deadbeat cousin while waiting for a bulk garbage pickup, or you deal with weirdos on Craigslist while trying to sell it, or you try to donate it but often have to transport it to the donation center yourself... it's a mess.) I'd probably buy more stuff if the disposal process was effortless at the end of the "stuff's" lifespan. The disposal problem is literally the limiting factor in consumption once you cross a certain income threshold.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:32 PM on May 25 [31 favorites]


Marie Kondo's Tidying Up Has Created A Flood Of Clothing Donations That No One Wants

It seems like people are, perhaps unknowingly, increasingly using donations of clothes primarily as a way to launder their conscience, like they get a do-over on the consumption lifestyle by making donations.
posted by thelonius at 1:37 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


That's why some companies will remove your old item when delivering a new one - I don't know about furniture, but for fridges and other large appliances it seemed quite common.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:38 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I have issues with the author (based on some years of twitter interaction and longer of being aware of each other's work). He has very strong opinions on this topic of post consumption, formed in his profession, which remain unshaken by any documentary evidence gathered during structured qualitative research.
posted by hugbucket at 1:39 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Then why not say where and why you disagree with him rather than just the vague innuendo that he's a bad dude? This just comes across as axe grinding.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:54 PM on May 25 [14 favorites]


I mean, you can Kondo your old clothes now, or someone else will Kondo them when you're dead. It's not as if the show created an avalanche of clothing from nothing.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:21 PM on May 25 [31 favorites]


(this is now the 93rd Argue About Marie Kondo Thread)
posted by ominous_paws at 2:22 PM on May 25 [27 favorites]


Meanwhile, I personally have become so bourgeois that when my very old, very creaky bike was recently stolen, my main emotion was relief that it was being re-used.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:24 PM on May 25 [14 favorites]


Adam Minter's book Junkyard Planet is great (self link to my Tumblr post about the book). Excited to read his next book.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:37 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Minter comes across as a bit of a scold here and also a little weak in terms of complexity. A couple of things he said were a bit confusing, he mixed the cost of a shipping container with a price per ton which wasn’t particularly helpful or informative for instance. His prediction about melting down clothing to make new thread seemed really simpleminded for a writer whose beat includes global economics.

I also find it a little shallow to contrast how seniors dispose of their stuff in Japan vs USA given how most consumer goods in the US are pretty much worthless second hand.

All my criticing aside I do think us Americans are very materialistic and are sometimes almost consumer good animists. I know I am to some degree.

I’m typing on a phone so apologies if this is garbled.
posted by Pembquist at 3:10 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Yes, furniture companies will take away your old stuff when they deliver the new. I don't know if Costco and the like will do so, but regular furniture places will.

As to tires -- when you buy new tires and have them put on, that's when you pay the disposal fee for the old ones. If you choose to take the old ones away and toss them on the roadside to save a couple of bucks, that's on you, and if you're caught doing it, you'll pay a lot more.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:35 PM on May 25


The one I have a problem with is TVs. Best Buy used to accept them for recycling, but stopped. TVs have become so unreliable and expensive to repair that it's cheaper to pay a disposal fee than try to find someone to fix them. Since they're considered hazardous waste, I think manufacturers ought to be required to ensure that they don't become waste for a reasonable time, like 10 years, and should take them back for free when they do die.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:43 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


This stuff, my stuff, is different from all the other stuff, which is junk, which is trash.

"Have ya ever noticed, their stuff is shit, and your shit is stuff!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:46 PM on May 25 [22 favorites]


You beat me to it, Greg_Ace! (See here if you don't know what we're talking about.)
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 3:48 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, I personally have become so bourgeois that when my very old, very creaky bike was recently stolen, my main emotion was relief that it was being re-used.

The last bike I had stolen resulted in great mirth. I felt like the thief served himself immediate justice by stealing my POS bike. Particularly since it had just thrown me over the handlebars and sent me by ambulance to the emergency room where I had $2000 medically removed from my bank account. The mirth may or may not have been due to brain injury triggered euphoria either as a result of damage or realizing I had not died from it or some combination of both.

Still sparked joy is sparked joy. Be free murderbike!

(Also my wife's brand new far nicer bike was right beside it and was every bit as purloinable and is still our possession).
posted by srboisvert at 3:59 PM on May 25 [23 favorites]


As far as I can tell, if you buy a fridge or other appliance from a big box store like Lowe's, they will cheerfully take your old fridge and scrap it. it may be in fine shape, but they want to sell more appliances.
posted by theora55 at 4:17 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


This was really interesting and I learned some things. Thanks. Looking forward to reading the book.
posted by Orlop at 4:17 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


we should require manufacturers to take on the downstream disposal cost rather than let it be pushed onto consumers, who are often ill-equipped to make responsible decisions even if they have the option, which frequently they don't.
I agree. You shouldn't be able to make and sell stuff without a plan for the disposal. I bought a used hybrid car.my question was What happens to the battery at the end of the car's life? and answers were hard to find. When the transmission went, a friend had the same model and happily took the battery, good deal for him. There's a lot of stuff that can't be recycled, and is expensive and maybe toxic to discard;there should be a mechanism to inform consumers, some of whom will care.

My town charges by the bag for trash; recycling is free. I'd recycle anyway, but curbside recycling is pretty swell. Between recycling and composting, my trash is minimal. Unless people have to pay for producing garbage, there's no incentive to stop.
posted by theora55 at 4:27 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


There needs to be way more transparency and education done about waste. A bunch of cities including my own right now are discovering that if you aren't straight up with residents about how the recycling industry works, everyone will assume that magical fairies can take literally anything and everything you give them and somehow turn it in to new stuff. It turns out now that single stream curbside recycling is as untenable as it sounds like it would be (I had foolishly assumed I was missing something because they wouldn't do it if it didn't work and anyway I'm not a waste management professional so what do l know) and suddenly we're being encouraged to sort and drive to drop off centers instead. It has done no one any good to pretend any of this is easy to accomplish. I would have much rather preferred a message of "This is not going to be easy, but we're going to do our best to make sure you have all the facts and there are systems in place to lessen the burden on residents wherever possible, but no system is going to make it a neutral proposition to consume a shit-ton of petrochemicals and heavy metals, sorry."
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:48 PM on May 25 [16 favorites]


“‘Oh, my kids will take it.’ No, they won’t.”

Ooh, so this. Somewhere in the basement there's a box of ms scruss's late grandmother's wedding tea service. Along with it are a couple of bits of her mother's wedding china and the one surviving piece of her mother's china.I don't think we could throw it away while our parents' generation are still living. Kipple unto the fourth generation.
posted by scruss at 5:16 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


when my very old, very creaky bike was recently stolen, my main emotion was relief that it was being re-used.

Probably not, unfortunately. Most likely picked up by a scrappie off your porch and crushed at the local metal recycler for a couple of bucks. Every Friday we see the scrappie trucks head for the recyclers, and they always have loads of suspiciously new bikes on them.
posted by scruss at 5:20 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


This stuff, my stuff, is different from all the other stuff, which is junk, which is trash. This stuff is special!

George Carlin: "Y'ever notice that other people's stuff is *shit*, and your shit is *stuff*?"
posted by notsnot at 5:24 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I control-effed for "carlin", I swear!
posted by notsnot at 5:27 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


As far as I can tell, if you buy a fridge or other appliance from a big box store like Lowe's, they will cheerfully take your old fridge and scrap it. it may be in fine shape, but they want to sell more appliances.-- theora55

At least in California, the state will take away your old refrigerator and give you $35. So I'm not surprised Lowe's will cheerfully do this for you.
posted by eye of newt at 6:53 PM on May 25


I think the most important is that – barring a few exceptions, especially at the high end of the market – consumers in North America and Europe are committed to a donation model for discarding clothing and durable goods, and consumers in Japan – as in most parts of the world – tend to sell them.

Has he never heard of garage sales? Maybe he lives somewhere where they are not so common.
posted by eye of newt at 6:54 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I mean, you can Kondo your old clothes now, or someone else will Kondo them when you're dead. It's not as if the show created an avalanche of clothing from nothing.

Sure, if a popular TV show persuaded everyone to all die at the same time. The Slate article describes the donation infrastructure being overwhelmed in the way that you dismiss, I thought.
posted by thelonius at 6:56 PM on May 25


I have issues with the author

I think the top comments on the Hackernews thread get to the heart of the problem:
If someone is engaging in environmentally destructive production in a third world country using materials from the first world, one might say the "externalities" of first world production are being imported to that third world nation. This is similar to way rare earth production shifted to China when other industrialized nations regulated it's environmental impact.

Which is to say the arguments here seem like a collection of double talk. "Denying agency" is the sort of complaint that can justify all sort of claims.

just broadly, a big part of the article is about exploding the story that the first world dumps its trash on the third world. He dramatizes the view, denigrates the view, gives some details intended to debunk the view but doesn't really say what happen instead. "It gets bought" doesn't seem like enough detail, to say the least. Plastic scraps go to Malaysia - are burned, actually recycled, what? If one is exploding other's myths, it seems like an alternative story would be merited.

I mean, it's difficult to argue somebody isn't dumping something on a poor country when that poor country legislates to ban it for health and safety reasons (and some exports continue with falsified manifests...). And as highly sophisticated as the operation might be to export car batteries to villages in developing countries where they can set up cottage industries re-smelting them for their lead, I'm not persuaded by the idea the organizations running the exports deserve more agency than kids dying of lead poisoning, and I'm entirely unconvinced by the author's argument that it's emotional attachment to cars we've assumed are going to be dismantled for scrap domestically that makes us queasy about the whole thing.

A lot of the time the waste is being exported in ships that would otherwise be empty, and the exporters are evading expensive legal disposal costs and massive taxes (a lot of organised unlawful dumping takes place closer to home of course, but there are costs and risks of doing that at scale too). And whilst I'm all in favour of taking a nuanced view of low income countries trying to make money from recycling, I also refuse to believe that someone who has written two books on the global waste trade over two decades of research has never heard of any incidents which don't fit his narrative of waste exports invarably being legitimately purchased by informed customers (really? he hasn't heard of the Khian Sea?)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:14 PM on May 25 [10 favorites]


it's also easy to see it as a pretty childish and self-centered delusion. This stuff, my stuff, is different from all the other stuff, which is junk, which is trash. This stuff is special! Whatever the normal way to handle stuff like this is just won't do - it doesn't conform to my values.

Seems to me that it's both uncharitable and somewhat projecting to dismiss the idea that waste is primarily a verb and not a noun as either childish or self-centred.

The simple fact that it is normal to live in a manner that involves relegating vast flows of potentially useful materials to landfill or incineration doesn't make doing so a good idea.

Being personally affronted by the spectacle of seeing so much reusable stuff, let alone recyclable stuff, treated axiomatically as trash, and taking whatever small actions one can personally in order to divert part of that vast waste stream and see more use got out of it, doesn't look childish or self-centred to me. I think it's something that more people need to be doing as a matter of course, if we're to have any hope at all of maintaining something resembling civilization as climate change decimates the population.

This stuff - my stuff - is different from the vast bulk of otherwise identical junk, purely and exactly because I am still getting good use out of it.

sent from my landfill-diverted laptop, which the original owner bought new for AU$400 in 2008 and discarded three years ago, augmented with RAM and SSD recovered from a busted machine I took from a dumpster and diverted the rest of to recycling
posted by flabdablet at 9:15 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Years ago, I left the US and moved to a country that will sell first, donate second. At work we have an internal list where goods for sale or free can be posted. It isn’t unusual to see cars, furniture, appliances bought and sold again and again, staying within our ecosystem. Newborn and small toddler clothing and stuff get passed between families.

The knock-on effect is that I keep the boxes of new purchases, anticipating the eventual date they’re put up for sale. This means investing in protections so it’ll have maximum resale value. So yeah, I care about my stuff.

On my last visit back to my parents, they rather emphatically tried to get me to accept a full silver service and the Royal Doulton tea set. I could not accept. I have no children. So when I die, the formal dining sets would end up sold, pennies on the dollar. The work to keep the silver polished makes my head ache. It broke my heart to say no, rejecting the symbols and fruits of their prosperity. Their style is not mine and I can’t justify the cost and resources to get it to my corner of the world. I’m still sad when I remember their looks of masked disappointment. I wish I could care about their stuff.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:19 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


This has made me sit down and write out a comment so long that it's turned into an essay. I'll spare everyone -- but this replacement isn't much better! Sorry.

There's two or three separate things being talked about here: what we do with our garbage, with our potentially-recyclable trash, and with our personal goods. People reasonably and rightly care about what happens to treasured and expensive things; older people find it particularly frustrating watching their children declare things they've spent thousands of dollars on to be 'trash'. Sometimes they really are, and sometimes they're just old fashioned or unsuitable; ie lemon_icing's comment above. Lots of this stuff is mass-produced and widely available, like Royal Doulton tea sets, but mixed in with it are good 19th and early 20th century pieces, which are also being smashed or donated to thrift stores.

This has made the bottom fall out of several sectors of the antique market, but that will eventually change. I know younger antique dealers who are filling shipping containers with cheap cut glass and sterling and china and 'brown furniture', hoping to dig them out in 20 years or so. Fashions change; the teak midcentury sideboards that are currently selling for 3-5K will eventually go back to being something that no-one wants, and something else -- Stickley arts and crafts settees? French provincial armchairs? -- will be hot and expensive. The antiques market in general is flooded, so right now you can buy an Edwardian hardwood chest of drawers at auction for less than you'd pay for a Malm at Ikea. The Malm is particle board and will fall apart in a decade; the Edwardian 'piece of garbage that nobody wants' will outlive you nicely.

Heirlooms -- family items with personal history but little value -- are worth keeping for the future, even if you don't like them. You may not care about the embroidery that your great-grandmother did when she was 12, or your grandfather's medals, but your grandchild (or your great-nephew) possibly will, especially if everyone else has thrown all that shit away.

And Scruss, if you've got a couple of pieces of Victorian bone china in your basement, check with the British Porcelain collector groups before you just chuck them. Glassware prices have dropped by a lot, but it still has value.
posted by jrochest at 11:23 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


It's amusing how much the article avoids the discussion of how maybe we shouldn't be buying so much stuff to begin with, as if that was too horrible to contemplate. Especially regarding clothing. As if not for Marie Kondo, our houses would magically expand to hold all the stuff we ever want to own, only to... get buried with it when we die?

Personally, I find that was my long-lasting KonMari takeaway, back when she had only one book out - the purge process helped me redefine my emotional relationship to stuff and the amount of things I purchase fell dramatically, while the subjective quality rose. I only buy things when I either literally need them (this spring, it's nightwear because the ten-year-old nightgowns are finally disintegrating and a friend has already asked for the scraps to make baskets with), or they will bring me joy with their existence/use, not just the act of purchasing them. It's a lot of work to get over post-communist scarcity mentality here.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:19 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


I mean, it's difficult to argue somebody isn't dumping something on a poor country when that poor country legislates to ban it for health and safety reasons (and some exports continue with falsified manifests...). And as highly sophisticated as the operation might be to export car batteries to villages in developing countries where they can set up cottage industries re-smelting them for their lead, I'm not persuaded by the idea the organizations running the exports deserve more agency than kids dying of lead poisoning, and I'm entirely unconvinced by the author's argument that it's emotional attachment to cars we've assumed are going to be dismantled for scrap domestically that makes us queasy about the whole thing.

Harvey kilobit's extracted commentary is spot on, right down to questioning the framing by a guy with allegedly a decades worth of expertise and two books on the subject. No matter what he finds out, he ends up writing the party line rather than what has actually been observed.

Once China banned plastic garbage imports shipped from the US, the USA needed a place to dump their plastic garbage mountain.

Here are the bans from frustrated small countries in South East Asia, and Duterte is ready to send the garbage back to Canada and dump it in their backyard.

Minter's voice the official party line on all of this stuff happening NIMBY for y'all to read.

References:

180 countries except US, agree to plastic waste agreement

US reportedly opposed deal, which follows concerns that villages in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia had ‘turned into dumpsites’

Indonesian environmentalists accuse Australia of 'smuggling' plastic waste following China ban

Most of the plastic scrap coming into the country is contaminated and low-quality plastic from developed countries that is non-recyclable

Asia Will No Longer Tolerate Being a Plastic Waste Dump

Philippines' Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

And this is why I have issues with Minter, who writes feelgood pablum for y'all on this topic

How America Is Sabotaging The Global War On Plastic Waste
Most nations have banded together to tackle the crisis, but the U.S. keeps undermining their efforts.
posted by hugbucket at 1:33 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Hooray and thank you for your garbage.
posted by hugbucket at 1:36 AM on May 26


It's amusing how much the article avoids the discussion of how maybe we shouldn't be buying so much stuff to begin with, as if that was too horrible to contemplate. Especially regarding clothing.

Thoreau, 1854:
But if my jacket and trousers, my hat and shoes, are fit to worship God in, they will do; will they not? Who ever saw his old clothes -- his old coat, actually worn out, resolved into its primitive elements, so that it was not a deed of charity to bestow it on some poor boy, by him perchance to be bestowed on some poorer still, or shall we say richer, who could do with less? I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.
posted by flabdablet at 1:38 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


In Ontario, Kijiji is where it’s at. It’s like a totally non-sketchy Craigslist.

I feel this so hard. I have a ton of Very nice gently used baby stuff - halo bassinet, ergo carrier, uppababy stroller, a classy crib, baby wash basin etc, that was kindly gifted from various family members. What to do when the last baby peeps is grown? Selling it feels crass. Giving the whole lot to a friend also feels weird... plus I’m the last one in my cohort to have kids... My best thought is to donate it to a women’s shelter. Somehow that feels “right.” I’d keep it but Lets face it my grandkids will have hovercraft strollers and won’t want my then 40 year old vintage “but it was top of the line in my day!” Baby gear. Why do I care so much? It’s just stuff! But it really bugs me already! In retrospect maybe I should have bought meh quality so I don’t feel so bad? Is that why there’s so much junk quality out there?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:03 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


What to do when the last baby peeps is grown?

Give it away the minute they've outgrown it. Our kid is six months old, we were given second, third, fourth and whatever hand basically everything he's ever worn and I've already seen things he's worn being worn by slightly younger babies. It feels really good, both the stuff coming in and then it going out again.
posted by deadwax at 5:06 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


The antiques market in general is flooded, so right now you can buy an Edwardian hardwood chest of drawers at auction for less than you'd pay for a Malm at Ikea. The Malm is particle board and will fall apart in a decade; the Edwardian 'piece of garbage that nobody wants' will outlive you nicely.

When I moved from England to Chicago I sold almost everything I owned. My highest returns were on crappy particle board IKEA furniture which despite being over 10 years old sold for 80-110% of its current price. Part of this I am certain was arbitrage because getting to IKEAs can be difficult but another part of it is that IKEA is blandly inoffensive design that doesn't really go in and out of style for people who are not obsessed with fashions but there could be other reasons as well. You really can't predict what has value based on your own ideas because you aren't fully aware of what factors into other people's decision making.

So I always assume what I think is junk may be of value to others and I try to find a way to help them get to it. That said I find the American market for used goods to be shockingly sketchy and filled with bad actors and assholes and sometimes I don't want to bother to risk it.
posted by srboisvert at 9:08 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


“‘Oh, my kids will take it.’ No, they won’t.”

My partner & I spent last summer throwing away 98% of our possessions, moving the rest into storage, & changing states to flee a nasty multi-strain black mold infestation.

While we were temporarily homeless in the middle of all this, my father tried to give me four cane chairs, two of which had their cane seats completely busted out, making them actually unsittable. I said no.

"Oh? That's okay. Your cousin Leigh has a partner and a house. I'll give them to her."

NO ONE WANTS YOUR BROKEN CHAIRS DAD
posted by taquito sunrise at 12:44 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


When I moved from England to Chicago I sold almost everything I owned. My highest returns were on crappy particle board IKEA furniture which despite being over 10 years old sold for 80-110% of its current price. Part of this I am certain was arbitrage because getting to IKEAs can be difficult but another part of it is that IKEA is blandly inoffensive design that doesn't really go in and out of style for people who are not obsessed with fashions but there could be other reasons as well. You really can't predict what has value based on your own ideas because you aren't fully aware of what factors into other people's decision making.

Oh, I'm pretty sure that the Ikea was popular because it's like McDonalds: you know exactly what you're getting when you buy a PAX wardrobe, in terms of size and finish and all the rest. And yes, it's a bonus that it's already put together and can be easily picked up. I am surprised you got that much for it, though.

But the whole point of antiques is that you *can* predict what has value; Edwardian mahogany dressers are better than an Ikea Malm in the same way that good steak is better than a McDonald's hamburger, or that a Tesla is better than a Hyundai. :)
posted by jrochest at 11:59 PM on May 26


But the whole point of antiques is that you *can* predict what has value; Edwardian mahogany dressers are better than an Ikea Malm in the same way that good steak is better than a McDonald's hamburger, or that a Tesla is better than a Hyundai. :)
I absolutely love the craft and high quality wood of antiques, but honestly they're not always practical. My Ikea drawers have modern sliding hardware and I can disassemble them when I move house. Antique drawers are heavy and hard to open and close, and moving them is an absolute pain.
posted by leo_r at 6:07 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


What to do when the last baby peeps is grown?

Reach out to domestic violence shelters. According to the pros at the shelters where I volunteer, intimate partner violence tends to escalate after a woman gives birth and a lot of women flee to shelters with nothing but a diaper bag. Shelters will usually be eager to get good-quality baby gear.

Another suggestion: refugee resettlement organizations. We had a few Syrian families resettle in our zip code and I happily passed along my Uppababy and Ergo carrier to them.

There is no shortage of worthy places for gently-used baby gear! And how wonderful it can be, to pass along the things that gave your family a well-equipped start and pass along that opportunity to others too.
posted by sobell at 11:24 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Ooh, so this. Somewhere in the basement there's a box of ms scruss's late grandmother's wedding tea service. Along with it are a couple of bits of her mother's wedding china and the one surviving piece of her mother's china.I don't think we could throw it away while our parents' generation are still living. Kipple unto the fourth generation.


Why not bring it out of the basement and use them? It's a pretty reliable way to make sure it doesn't all survive another generation.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:57 PM on May 28


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