Matching sets – making greener choices

My guess is that the idea of matching sets goes with the industrial revolution and mass production. For most of history, most of our ancestors would not have replaced anything that wasn’t broken. Most people would have put up with broken things, or fixed them, or only replaced what was broken. The idea of matching crockery is a pretty weird one when you think about it in terms of how we use resources. Matching kitchen furniture. Matching bathroom stuff – these things are bulky and costly to replace, but so often if one goes, the lot has to go.

Of course, this whole approach serves capitalism very well. If we feel tatty and shameful with mismatched items and are persuaded to throw everything away and get new ones any time a single thing breaks, we spend more.

I recently went round this with the kitchen floor. A number of the vinyl floor tiles were breaking up and not fit for purpose. Doing the whole floor was clearly going to take a lot of time and effort, so neither of us got round to it. Eventually it dawned on me that there was no need to do the whole floor. No need to take up perfectly serviceable tiles in order to replace them. We bought a single pack of tiles, removed the damaged ones, inserted the new ones – a job that didn’t take Tom very long at all in the end. A small amount of unusable material went to landfill.

We now have mismatched floor tiles in the kitchen. It’s perfectly functional. It looks like what it is.

So much of it comes down to what we think is desirable, acceptable, good enough, versus what we think will get us judged critically. If looking overtly green was considered your sexiest option, it would be persuasive. If you thought people would look on you favourably for waste-avoiding choices, then chucking a whole bunch of things away because one thing was damaged, would not be even slightly attractive.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Matching sets – making greener choices

  • Readerbythesea

    I’ve never been in a financial position to have matching anything! In any place I’ve lived I’ve made do with what’s there and evolved from that with bits I already have, stuff that’s been given and the odd desperate purchase.
    I suspect my footprint is pretty small for someone in the West🤔

  • emberbear

    A lovely post, as always. In the end it’s an ugly duckling/ beautiful swan thing, I think. We spend our young years in the maelstrom of being judged and having to fight hard to retain our individuality and principles. Then, oh joy, we gradually find our tribe or tribes and we can relax. I have no interest in being friends with anyone who is going to care that a lot of our stuff is 10/20/30 years old. However, sometimes it is good to renew things that are past mark of mouth so this summer I bought new crockery and bedding. The old plates and bowls have gone under plants. The old bedding will become painting sheets when I finally get round to painting the bedrooms.

  • emberbear

    Same here! I have most of her wedding tea service and it is in pride of place on the dresser and I use it for special events. The rest of the time we drink from random mugs. I also have her dinner service and we use that at Christmas. This is all nearly one hundred years old now and I shall pass it on to my daughter. From my other grandmother I have a lovely butterfly brooch she gave me many years ago. I am looking at a lovely photo of her right now. On some level, our ancestors are always with us.

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