What Already Exist
If there were never again to be another book written, another sonata, another screenplay, another sweet lyric... If no further advancement of televisions, computers, or iPhones were made... If all future ideas never came to fruition to enjoy, to detest, to discover, or to negate... the world would still have endless gifts to offer, to unearth, and to be grateful for.
There is a bottomless pit of things that already exists. It would take countless lifetimes to get acquainted with all there is in the world to have, to hold, and to learn. We have so much constantly being thrown before us, to see or to buy, that we trash things without a second thought. We mindlessly seek to replace one thing with the next "better" thing.
How would it be to use only what we already have or what already exist? How could I contribute in reducing my Human Footprint?
Reducing the Human Footprint
The master bedroom of my home is the largest room in the house. It's approximately as large as a my family room and kitchen combined. I could pitch a 5-man tent next to my Cal King bed and still have room for a bonfire with friends. However, the majority of the room had remained untouched the seven years I've lived here.
When my boyfriend moved in, he was dismayed how I had my writing practice strewn about the house. His idea: Let's create a writer's area for you... in the bedroom, away from his home office, away from the television, and away from the kitchen where I spend a lot of time. I was initially offended. Was he trying to corner me, my creativity, my future books into a contained area of the house?
He measured the area and viewed it from all angles of the room as if he was an architect about to rebuild the entire house. According to his calculations, and visions of me writing, an entire living room set could fit in the area: a sofa, two armchairs, a side table, and a large storage ottoman. But it seemed like such a luxury - a writing area for me, a non-bestselling author, a writer that still struggles to find time to write, struggles to find the exact words to express my ideas... whether this is what the writer in me needed or not, I started thinking his idea was a nice idea!
New or Used?
We had recently made a trip to the local dump to rid ourselves of "junk". The amount of stuff being pushed, crunched, and forever-to-be-forgotten created puffs of dust and odor that had to be worse than asbestos inhalation. It actually hurt my heart to see so much waste, so much I-don't-care-about-this-item anymore. At one time, someone (myself, included) felt they needed that item and now it was on its way to a landfill. No doubt, the items being hauled away had already been replaced with yet another item. I felt nauseated. How could I reduce my contribution to this heap in the future?
That's when I thought, perhaps we could find a used writer's chair - something that already exist. We had seen nearly 100 new armchairs that I couldn't commit to. We then visited a consignment shop and I found a used chair for $39.00 that felt perfect. The material was dirty and out dated, but it was comfy and the exact height needed for my arms to type.
"We can have it reupholstered," my boyfriend said.
We obtained quotes and then learned why people just buy new... it would cost anywhere from $350 to $500 to reupholster one chair. Are you kidding me? We had found an entire set (sofa and two armchairs) on sale for $1000, brand spanking new, that I also loved. Now the dilemma... buy new or used?
We bought new. But I couldn't stop thinking about the used chair. Why didn't I try to reupholster it myself? So, I bought the used one, too. I had no experience with fabric or reupholstery, but I was determined to try and save this chair.
Reupholstery - I Think I Can, I Think I Can
When I told my mom and aunt I was going to reupholster the armchair myself they both laughed out loud, literally. "Take it to your Aunt Celia. She can do anything," my Aunt Lina suggested. "Take to to that place in Lodi," my mother said.
On our way home I told my boyfriend, "See how they laughed? They don't think I can do it."
"I don't think you can do it either," he said, " I know you can."
With only that one man backing me, I went home and meticulously ripped the chair apart, labeling each panel, taking pics and making notes. I bought way too much fabric, cut out the pieces, ordered a pneumatic staple gun, watched YouTube videos, learned about making "piping" aka "welt," stretched and tugged the material and voilà, reupholstered an armchair!
I didn't reinvent the wheel and I didn't exactly meet the goal of reducing my Human Footprint - but I did try something new. I put my foot in to test the water and I liked the way it felt.
Attempting to reduce the Human Footprint takes time, patience, confidence and determination. The armchair has mistakes, I know where each one is. But it was my first chair, my "practice" piece. And I know I can get better with each chair. I discovered I enjoy the labor of reupholstery. So, I went back to the consignment shop and bought the remaining four chairs.
What will we do with all of them? If they come out decently, we will sell them on Craigslist. If not, and your birthday is around the corner, you may be receiving a stylish armchair as a gift. It's more than an armchair. It's something that already existed, waiting to be rediscovered. It's my tiny contribution in helping reduce the Human Footprint, one item at a time. Now, let me see, what else can I do?