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Junk Drunk Minimalist

I hate IKEA. There I said it. Well, maybe I have a weak spot for the dollar hot dogs.

But I hate IKEA, hate is probably a strong word. Ikea is a heaven for those who like a well organised and decluttered home (Sorry Rebecca!). But I dislike IKEA along with a lot of other retailers.

Each time a catalogue comes out it will contain the latest in fashion and home décor trends. Destined to be donated, sold, given away and become landfill before you’ve even got it out of the packaging. It is marketing driven consumerism at its finest, exploiting a person’s needs to feel accepted by others.

I wonder just how much of the glorified paper mache made at IKEA goes into landfill each year? Either broken or just out of fashion for the years or seasons trends. The same for clothing, did you know the average American throws out 30 kilograms of clothing into landfill each year? That pans out to 14 million tonnes of clothing waste.

As I look around my house, I can see the ethical choices I’ve made. I don’t “buy” things anymore. I “rescue” them, those that were destined to be landfill. As I pen this article to paper, on a bureau desk I bought off eBay for 30 dollars. Dry, brittle and out of shape. It was a process, I slowly brought it back to life as a functional piece of furniture. But also something nice to look at and value its journey, to know it didn’t become landfill, scrapped timber or burnt because it’s old. My three-seater and two recliner couch, Gumtree, and the same for my bookcase and much more other things around my house.

Last year my IKEA tallboy bit the dust, the bottoms fell through, the drawers wouldn’t come out. A few hundred dollars spent on something with a limited lifespan. Destined to become a freebie on the curb. I spent a bit of time looking around on Gumtree for solid timber tallboys, they were all close to what I wanted but still didn’t appeal to me. A little bit impractical here and there or a bit over the budget.

Luckily, a long time mate from high school was firing up a new business making furniture again. We both had the same set of morals on waste, especially when it came to timber. So I set him to work with a short design brief, replicate my great grandmother’s tallboy. The now 110-year-old French polish solid timber tallboy had outseen two world wars, multiple countries and countless moves. A few weeks later, a tallboy made from Oregon was ready for me. The timber sourced from an 80-year-old house demolished in the Adelaide Hills, with exposed dovetail joints and handcrafted handles from recycled steel. His signature finish, and a stunning piece of furniture.

Why am I a junk drunk minimalist though? I just don’t like waste. Why send an old computer to landfill or e-recycling because it doesn’t do what you want to anymore? I’m sure that old clunker can be a great learning tool for a child, or for grandparents wanting to get on the internet.
Old clothes or furniture, anything can be sold or donated, given away or re-purposed. It doesn’t have to end up in landfill. Getting rid of stuff is easy, it’s making a conscious choice about the next purchase is where the hard stuff starts. Buy something that won’t break, buy something that won’t become landfill or out of fashion.

Have you ever seen American Pickers? A couple of guys going through the back roads of America. Saving things before they rust or become landfill. I love old stuff, it’s got a story, it’s had an adventure. It’s been loved, appreciated and admired. Save something like that and it can have that adventure all over again. American Pickers coined the phrase “junk drunk”, getting drunk over all the fantastic stuff you can find.

Nothing in my house really matches, it’s not a bright white, clean “minimalist interior design” environment. It is lived in, about the only bright white things are my washer and dryer. But I only have the necessities so that I can live comfortably. My house is not a minimalist design, but of minimalist intentions. To live comfortably, with enough.