This week’s guest blog comes from Keck’s very own Jenna Roberts (@jenarobuts) getting riled over More4 reruns:
“As seems justified with pretty much most of the world’s crises (and several more minor personal ones), I blame tedious, oppressive capitalism and Kirstie Allsopp. Though I could spend most of my day calling bullshit on Ms. Allsopp and her questionable non-contributions to feminism, what I’m here channelling my resentment against is, perhaps one of her lesser offences, ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’ and her seeming renaissance as the Queen Of The Upcycle. Upcycling isn’t Kirstie Allsopp, Kirstie Allsopp isn’t upcycling. It really is so much more – and hear me out before you dismiss me as being recklessly profound.
Using my mother as barometer of popular opinion, there seems either this aggravatingly Allsopp-ian image of upcycling as sickly saccharine, faddish and twee, the domain of women with a flair for Pinterest and crafts –or a somewhat ‘Mother Earth’ vision of white girls with dreads ‘making do and mending’, darning up and tie dying their organic hemp ponchos. Whilst neither of these breeds of upcyclers are to be sniffed at, upcycling isn’t a fad – it isn’t whimsy or a quaint seasonable notion for wrapping Christmas presents in an ‘unusual’ way. It also isn’t just for those devoting all facets of their lives to being green and saving the planet (though MASSIVE RESPECT to you guys as we definitely all should be.) As cringey as it sounds, upcycling and re-use is for everyone – and beyond this needs to be instilled as an accessible, universal norm, transcending Allsopp’s ‘Homemade Home’ candy coating. Upcycling is fun – its creative, it can be craftsy I can’t deny and it’s charming and easy to fall in love with as a process. Repurposing an object that’s gone unloved or otherwise become obsolete, tangibly reworking and reinventing that object, its delicate, intricate and personal, a labour of love. It’s equally something of a necessity.
For one, upcycling really does just seem to make sense – it’s logical. From a personal, more domestic standpoint, it’s thrifty and economical. Boiling upcycling down to its much less sugared core concept of ‘re-use’ and underscored with the knowledge of the phenomenal damage the textile, fashion and retail industries cause to both our environment and our economy, it becomes logical and necessary in an urgent way. Specifically textile waste in the UK is just unfathomable: 1.5 million tonnes and over £140 million of unwanted clothing are land filled each year. We buy our clothes fast and dispose of them just as quickly. We live in a throwaway culture where we’re in fact pre-designing items to lack durability and quality and be almost immediately thrown out – and only 30% of those clothes we throw away are we recycling or upcycling. According to the New Statesman, for every kilo of cotton preserved through re-using a second hand piece of clothing, you save 65 kWh of energy, the equivalent of over 30 kilos of CO2. Upcycling isn’t just reworking old piano keys into a statement piece clock or ironing patches on your shorts, re-use –after initial efforts we should all be driving to reduce in the first instance- should be an active fundamental of all of our lifestyles. Use it, re-use it, re-use it again. Upcycling isn’t quaint: it’s hardy, hands-on, savvy, defiant. Call me zealous if you will but upcycling is a politically-informed and motivated gesture towards establishing an environmentally-conscientious, circular economy – one that respects both the concept of value and our planet.”