I’ve been helping build a room with and for my housemate, in the shed out the back of my place. And while we’ve been using as much secondhand and reclaimed material as we can find, we’ve had to buy a fair amount, timber especially. And it’s come mostly from a particularly horrible hardware chain. While I’ve been rationalising this as being Not My Fault (it’s not my room, after all), I directly benefit from having the extra housemate (less rent, for instance) and I’ve been encouraging em* to move in to the shed.

So the obvious question is, is there a better way to build the shed? And of course there is. To start with, getting materials from gumtree, the trading post, or any other similiar hub for the secondpass economy is totally viable – and would probably also have saved us money. There’s also freecycle, one of the most exciting manifestations of the gift economy I’ve run across in Melbourne. Freecycle is a simple listing service, where folks announce what they’ve got to offer and what they need. There’s no expectation of a direct exchange for goods, just the anticipation that those who benefit from freecycle will help others, in order to keep the system flowing.

And there’s a bunch of blogs, DIY books and websites, as well as workshops and trainings dedicated to the idea of “green” building – which often means reclaiming and recycling materials. In fact, there’s so many I’m not going to make a gesture towards listing them here – I think there’s no point. Because more than anything I’ve talked about on this blog so far, this building project reveals the class privilege I’m working with.

It’s easy for me to suggest to my housemate that we slow down, take longer and get recycled materials to build eir room with; I have somewhere to stay. But ey hasn’t had a room of eir own since April 2009, has been couchsurfing ever since then. We both have a fair bit of time to scrounge with, but we don’t have a car to get stuff home. So while I’m angry at the luxurious sense of convenience that a lot of consumer decision making is based around (which we can see in the marketing of goods as well), I see this as a bit different.

Other than that, I still haven’t bought anything. My underwear’s beginning to thin, so I may well need some soon!

The contract on my phone is coming up, making me think (again) about Coltan and its environmental and social implications.

More on this later.
*using Spivak pronouns


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