SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, A BROKEN TOASTER, & LOTS OF DUMPSTERS

My journey to a new paradigm for stuff.

Innovation can sometimes come from re-arranging pieces that already exist. 

A few years ago I was home on maternity leave, and I couldn’t sleep at night. I had a bunch of broken things at home – a lamp, a backpack, a vacuum – and there was no where to get them fixed. At work in the theatre, there were tons of people with the skills to fix things. Why weren’t there any convenient ways at home to make my vacuum work again?

I was facing a similar cognitive dissonance at work. I could dutifully rinse my yogurt cups and carry my canvas bag to the C-Town until I was blue in the face, but as a designer, I was filling dumpster after dumpster with  tons of scenery after every show. 

The system seemed broken.

So I started to try to change it. I founded Fixup, and operate repair shops and events around New York to promote a healthy, sustainable, circular model of consumption. 

In the theatre, I am working with colleagues to develop systematic ways to design and build more sustainably.

At Barnard, as the College’s first Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action, I am building a program to create healthy changes campus-wide.

And at home, I changed the way I shop. I buy entirely used clothes (except underwear, socks, and shoes). I buy as much furniture and housewares used as I can. I make it a point, when shopping, to always search for a used option first. If I have to buy new, I try to buy something that is well-made and responsibly produced.

It’s not about perfectionism, or minimalism – I have two kids, we have lots of plastic toys and clutter. We struggle to figure out what sparks joys just like everyone else.

These simple changes in the way I work and live have formed the foundation for a deeper investigation into our stuff, how it shapes our lives and our planet, and how we can make simple but meaningful changes that are good for us, good for our communities, good for the planet.


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Creds

Founder, Fixup

Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action & Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Barnard College

Harvard College

Yale School of Drama