Each month I contribute an article to The New Colonist, a web magazine about sustainable urban living. This month, antiques and the green movement were on my mind when I wrote New Year’s Resolutions for a More Sustainable 2012. For the record, I believe “green” is a better reason to re-use goods in a broad sense. From a marketing perspective “antiques are green” puts antiques into the broad category of used goods, and they may not stack up as well in terms of being green as other used items that don’t need to be shipped or travel around as much. Still, the industry is smartly attached to the idea that antiques are green, and so I thought the article might help highlight the need to spread the message to the sustainability community rather than just repeatedly preaching to the choir in the antiques world. Number two on my list is “Buy Antiques.” It reads as follows:
2. Buy Antiques. The mantra in the antiques industry these days is “antiques are green.” It may seem odd that furniture containing some exotic woods can be considered green. But buying an antique means your not buying something that was produced recently, probably in Asia, and shipped across the ocean. Antiques may be green, but so are many things you buy second-hand. So whether you go for high-end collectability or just old furniture- using what may have otherwise been discarded, it’s green. Of course there are different levels involved. Sometimes a high-end piece will be transported thousands of miles to shows before it is finally sold. That’s not so green. Likewise buying a piano in Maine and shipping it to San Diego is not so green. Remember the intensity of antiques shopping being a green activity is increased the more it is local.
So, in my view an improvement on the Buy Green slogan would be: Be Green. Buy Local. Buy Antiques. The article will appear at www.newcolonist.com January 1, 2012.