Help Us Expand the Unconsumption Project



Expand the Unconsumption Project

1. What do you propose to do?

Expand Unconsumption’s capacity to serve as a resource for sharing stories and ideas about creative reuse and mindful consumption.

We intend to build on our existing network on Tumblr — our primary online home since January 2009 — and our networks on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, PBWorks (where our wiki resides), Instagram, and Google+. Funding from the Knight Foundation would enable us to broaden and expand our efforts.

Read the rest here.

Basically: My Unconsumption colleague MollyBlock has us in the running to get a bit of Knight Foundation funding that would help us take this all-volunteer project to a whole new level.

Right now, we need to show the Knight Foundation that people care, via reblogs & likes. So if you wanna help, you know what to do


It’s so rewarding to see such a groundswell of support – as indicated by Tumblr likes and reblogs, and Disqus comments and likes – for the expansion of Unconsumption.

In the past 18 hours alone, following the publishing of our Unconsumption post about our proposal to the Knight Foundation, this Tumblr post has received 130 likes/reblogs! The additional support (likes, reblogs, comments, etc.) added to this post between now and March 29 will really be fantastic – and will help qualify us as a finalist for Knight News Challenge funding. Very exciting. 

The Uncollection: Looking for DIY/Crafty Creators To Spotlight


A quick note about the Uncollection project that’s been gradually unfolding here on the Unconsumption Tumblr.

As many of you know, we’ve invited a series of our favorite crafty creators to reuse our Mr. Cart Logo in original projects — rebranding existing stuff, as an experiment subverting the whole “brand” concept to give new value to old things. Lately our contributors’ efforts have been recognized by BoingBoing, Swiss Miss,, and The Etsy Blog.

We have more Uncollection pieces in the works, but now is as good a time as any to say that we’re also looking for even more creators to work with. If that’s you, please get in touch — read on for details including contact info.

Read More

A quick note about Unconsumption

Via unconsumption [a group project I – Molly – am happy to say I’m involved with]:

So, I was part of a panel discussion tonight, and Unconsumption came up, and people seemed interested and it occurs to me that I should put a quick note here.

I’ve written up the backdrop of this project many times, but the short version is that I made up the word “unconsumption” in a column I wrote about Freecycle, which mused on the idea that perhaps sometimes getting rid of stuff could feel as good as acquiring it — emotionally, as it were.

This fed into some other things I was thinking about at the time, and led me to ponder the idea of “Unconsumption” as a sort of brand, an “invisible badge,” an idea attached not to products or services but to mindful consumer behavior: recycling, reuse, etc.

I managed to convince several wonderful volunteers to join with me in the first step, which is basically this Tumblr — the idea here is nothing more than to offer fun, pleasing, inspiring, upbeat examples of the ideas noted above. Wherever this project goes — and believe me, we have ideas about that — I wanted the first step to be something engaging and enjoyable.

Not a lecture. Not an admonition to eat your vegetables or stop being such a bad person.

My thinking is that if Unconsumption is ever to get anywhere as an idea, it needs to feel, from the start, like a positive idea.

That’s what this Tumblr is about.

So if you heard me chat about this tonight, please poke around here, read the notes in the sidebar about this could mean, follow along, send us your thoughts, be part of the ride.

As mentioned tonight, it’s a small volunteer effort, and it’s not against anything. Who knows what might happen? Not me.

— Rob Walker

Why simply “feeling like part of the solution” matters

Via murketing:

unconsumption: Why simply “feeling like part of the solution” matters


Probably, if you care about climate change and ecologically responsible consumer behavior, you’ve encountered articles that explain why this or that purchase or action is really not all that helpful. Possibly, you’ve encountered that very sentiment in writing by, um, me [Rob Walker]. Which might make you wonder what the point of Unconsumption really is — it would be easy to characterize this project as a “feel good” effort.

Well, I was listening today to an episode of a radio show with a focus on psychology and sociology, titled “Climate change and behavioral change: What Will It Take?” And while it included a number of rather discouraging moments explaining the problems of reconciling human nature with the sort of changes that need to happen, it also included a passage I want to share with you that will I hope explain the underpinnings of Unconsumption.

The host brings up the subject of carbon emissions, and one of her guests, Joseph Reser, who teaches psychology at Griffith University, muses on the tendency of research to discount the worth of any consumer behavior that doesn’t definitively impact carbon emissions:

To me as a psychologist that just seems a bit crazy. I think we should be talking about psychologically significant responses, psychologically significant behaviours. And the reality is they work together, if a person engages in a particular behaviour they not only feel good about it but it has other benefits. For example people think that the really meaningful behaviour is recycling but actually recycling doesn’t have that much of a consequence in terms of CO2 emissions. And so a person who thinks about environmentally significant behaviour would say, “Well look that’s just kind of self therapy, it doesn’t really help very much.” I’m of the view that any behaviours that are pro-environmental behaviours but that are psychologically meaningful are really important and all of those actions have real benefits.

One of the ways in which people cope with what they could well believe is an apocalyptic threat, and maybe that will be the reality, is that they want to do something about it, they need to do something about it. And I think it’s terribly important that they take some kind of action. And that action might not have a direct spin-off in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but it’s psychologically very important. It’s motivating, validating and they can feel they are part of the solution as well as part of the problem, so it’s a very important way of coping with climate change.

You can check out the entire show, or transcript, here. (Via Mindhacks.) But that basic spirit is part of what this project is, to me at least, all about.

It’s crucial to be aware of the ways that human nature — rational or no — gets in the way of solving the problem.

It’s also crucial to be aware of the ways that human nature — rational or no — can help us be part of the solution.