So I was very lucky yesterday to start conducting some of my interviews on being thrifty. These ones with a particular focus on food.
As I am very interested in the importance of objects, one thing I was asking people about was stuff that they had bought for the kitchen but that they didn’t really currently use or used very occasionally. I’ve done something similar with regards this idea on hair products and appliances. So those products (mousse, wax, gel), appliances (curling tongues, hot brushes, diffusers – ha ha!) which people buy because of the promise to make your hair look fabulous. Yet, for one reason or another (often not having the hairdressing skills to use them), things don’t quite work out the way you intended and they live in a cupboard for the next 10 years.
My colleague Sophie Woodward is currently conducting a project on these sorts of items (see http://projects.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/dormant-things/) and so I was keen yesterday to encounter some of the kitchen variety. I was not disappointed – slow cookers, juicers, food mixers were all mentioned as items which were not necessarily used (or at least weren’t used very regularly) but that still remained in the home. Sometimes things are kept for sentimental reasons. Other times they may never have been used but the aspiration to use them is there, aspirations that one day, we assure ourselves, will get fulfilled (this ties to work by O’Sullivan & Gershuny, 2004).
So there’s lots of stuff that people keep that only has occasional use or isn’t used at all. What can we do with such objects?
The Library of Things (http://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/) is one great idea to minimise the amount of occasional ‘stuff’ we have. Of course, for items of sentimental value, or that period where such appliances and objects are key to our daily consumption practices, sharing them might not seem so appealing, but it’s certainly an option for when we tire of what to do with them.