Reusing lends to individuality, planet’s survival
I am trying to clear out closets and storage. Old people are counseled to ‘downsize,’ but it always seems to go against the grain with me. Every rediscovered treasure gives me new delight either in its ability to bring back memories or its undiscovered potential for the future.
This morning, I have been trying to thin out a stack of old magazines. Some are of clothing fashions and others of house furnishings or gardens. I must admit that some of them go as far back as the 1990s. There sure has been a change through the years in what is considered the ‘in thing.’
If you are old enough, you likely can recall the more structured fashion with pinched waists and long skirts of the 1940s. They are a far cry from the loosely-layered outfits of today.
Have we just wised up to what is comfortable to wear or is something else going on here?
Consider another comparison: the ornate furnishings during the revival of the Victorian period in the 1980s as compared to the minimal designs in home decorations in 2018.
Social historians tell us that fashion is very influenced by the political, economic and social patterns that prevail. I have often heard the debate as to whether short skirts and bright colors reflect optimism in a society.
There is a big industry around establishing what will be the set preferred style for the future years. A private company called The Pantone Color Institute picks out the pallet of chosen pigments that all products will be geared to in specific years. I imagine it is a high-stakes, big-bucks business.
It didn’t just happen that in 2018 the colors at stores that sell home furnishings are all muted ‘sea foam green or blue’ mixed with beige or grey. It isn’t a coincidence that, if you go to buy slacks for women, you will find predominantly skinny-legged jeans with dropped waists on most shelves. Whoa to those who don’t look their best in the selected colors of the year or in skinny-legged denim.
With the advent of mechanization and globalization, the trend to all wear and use the same products is intensified. Currently in the rural areas of the Eastern European countries I visit, I find women no longer wear their traditional ‘house coats’ at home. No, these women are garbed in the past fashions from western countries. In the cities, young people sport around in the same skinny jeans and stretchy T-shirts you see in Indiana.
My old magazines remind me of the variety of styles that can exist when one frees up herself or himself from trying to be ‘in’ by conforming to standards set by some outside industry.
I love wearing vintage clothing. Yes, I am a real ‘second-hand Rose.’ I look less than favorable in tight jeans and stretchy tops. I look sloppy and dull in beige-tone blouses. Department stores with their limited options for color and style bore me to death. Give me a thrift store with garments from a wide range of style periods and my imagination and options pick up. I am neither enhanced in appearance nor motivated spiritually by just following fads of the day. In my mind, life seems to be a quest to figure out the cosmos, who I am as a unique person and how I can best use my talents in a purposeful life.
I read this quote in one of my old magazines this morning: ‘Today, young artists are considering how they can play a part in keeping their country’s traditions not just alive, but relevant.’
Using old materials in new ways. Mixing different ideas from the past and present to make something that serves the future. In community revitalization, we call this adaptive reuse. The old buildings prospering in Corydon’s downtown are good examples of the progressive mindset that incorporates our unique needs and opportunities with traditions from the past. For example, the old car dealership that now houses a human health store, vacant upper floors being transformed into modern apartments, the town hall moving into a former bank building, the old junior high school being converted into senior housing, etc.
On the magazine page across from the article about arts innovation with old and new materials, there was an article for flooring. It read, ‘For every person, for every personality, there is an Armstrong floor.’ I am sure they try to serve all, but do they really sell antique Persian rugs, floral carpets or recycled wooden surfaces? I don’t think so.
One of our big issues in this world is the practice of what I call ‘using, abusing and disposing.’ Plastic, for example, is not biodegradable, and we certainly use a lot of it, especially in the food and medical industry. Landfills and illegally harmful dumping grounds are a testament to our inability or unwillingness to recycle materials.
So, if you are not buying my argument for the use of old ‘stuff’ as a channel for individual excellence, consider thinking about it as a way to assist our planet in its survival. If biodiversity is considered by scientist to be the canary in the coal mine for the health of our planet, maybe it is true with diversity in human lifestyles, too.
Think about it. Our grandchildren will be glad we did.