Timeless, Treasured or Tossed.
Our Too Disposable World
How has our society come to treat everything as disposable, including material objects, the environment, and most heartbreakingly, each other?
It's bewildering to the point I started researching. Treasuring things that last; friendships, material objects, etc. is reflected in my life and art. Quality over quantity captivates me; something to love and use forever. When my high school friends were buying lots of cheap clothes, I saved for my first silk shirt and enjoyed it for years.
When I became an accidental jewelry designer in 2000, I knew nothing about jewelry. Soon after I got into into Saks Fifth Ave. I tried but couldn't follow trends because designs flowed from my heart and soul. That was a lucky break, because now, 20+ years later, people are as likely to fall in love with my first designs as the latest. The timeless pieces will last and be handed down through generations.
Looking at the cost per wearing rather than the price tag puts things in perspective. It's true for jewelry even more than many other things…after all, what else can be worn for hundreds of years?
How did we get to this disposable world?
WWII was all about sacrifice, conserving scarce resources, saving kitchen grease, donating scrap metal for munitions, keeping prices down by not generating excess demand. The slogan “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without!” became a national mantra.
After the war Life Magazine first used the term "throwaway living" as a benefit that made life easier. Planned obsolescence and superficial annual updates got people in the habit of thinking the latest was the greatest. Wanting a new cell phone every year bewilders me. Aside from the cost, I don’t want to waste time changing and am happy to use mine until it’s dead. Even then, we used to be able to take things to electronic repair shops. Do they still exist?
Boomers, the re-use/repair generation, had cloth napkins, knew how to sew hems, attach buttons, alter clothing, and would repair most things. Contact lenses lasted. Milk and soda bottles were returned for re-use.
As I type this, I’m sitting on sheets a friend was throwing away because they were too old. I took them and have been using them constantly since about 1985!
Today’s ‘Fast-Fashion’ is stylish, inexpensive, and falls apart just in time for the person to grab the next trend. The fashion industry is pushing for additional seasons to pressure even faster turnover.
Some interesting facts:
- American shoppers purchase about five times more clothing now than in 1980. (WSJ)
- In 2018, that averaged 68 garments a year, the online firm Rent the Runway told the New Yorker.
- The world’s citizens acquire some 80 billion apparel items annually.
- On average—average—each piece will be worn seven times before getting tossed, according to a 2015 study by the British charity Barnado’s.
- In China, it’s just three times, says the Chinese fashion-rental platform Y Closet.
- The average American buys sixty-eight items
of clothing annually
- eighty per cent of which are seldom worn
- twenty per cent of what the $2.4-trillion global fashion industry generates is thrown away.
People talk about saving the world, but they won’t save their own stuff!
Pope Francis speaks of "throwaway culture" in which the elderly and poor, migrants and refugees are discarded as waste.
It’s sad to see people treat each other as disposable. Friendships are trashed over nonsense. Homeless are viewed as an eyesore rather than someone to help. People are paid starvation wages. Author Kevin Bales (“Disposable People”) explains “The new slaves are not a long-term investment as was true with older forms of slavery. Instead, they are cheap, require little care, and are disposable.”
Lockdown-Life Lessons and Getting to That Better Place
We have new information now.
- How has lockdown-life changed our views?
- What are we learning to do differently?
- Are there things we took for granted and now cherish?
- What is essential?
- What had we imagined essential but now can easily do without?
- Learn to listen
- Find common ground.
- Own your place in any conflict.
- Learn to apologize.
Now that we aren’t disposable…
Building Your Jewelry Wardrobe
Well, I had to get back to jewelry eventually!
Now that we’re back to timeless and treasured, build a jewelry wardrobe you’ll wear, love, and hand down to future generations.
These are just a few ideas:
- Buy what you love
- Experiment with your style
- Check the materials- buy what will last
- Include Classics
- Include statement pieces
- Go with your favorite colors
- Favorite colors tend to remain the same, so the colorful jewelry will always be a good accent to your clothing of the same colors
- Stacking and layering.
- Start with a good chain, or a few
- Strands of pearls
- Beads in your favorite colors
- Pendants and pearl enhancers
- Multi-use interchangeable, necklace to bracelet, etc
- Suit Accessories
- Keep building on the basics – find your own passion and style
- Repair, refresh and re-design
- We make the old look like new, and completely redesign the ones that aren’t working
- New high-tech plating techniques and the gold does not seem to wear off.
- Scrap jewelry you’ll never want again to pay for the rest
- No “Self-stealing”
- Wear wear wear and enjoy.
- No saving for that special occasion.
- Jewelry is not for decorating the inside of a drawer, it's to wear and love.
- Quality over quantity = Joy, love and legacy
- Most important: Enjoy the journey!