Last night I was sitting reading a book and I realised my sofa was 20 years old. It’s as comfortable as it was when I bought it and still looks great in my lounge. I’ve never had the urge to buy a new one. I just don’t understand the desire to get rid of things before they’re broken or need replacing. I’m all about sustainability and longevity.
Apparently our throwaway culture goes back to 1930s America when ‘planned obsolescence’ – products deliberately designed with a short lifespan – was used as a way to stimulate the economy after the Depression. People were encouraged to buy mass produced, disposable products that they didn’t actually need – and unfortunately, the idea stuck.
It’s the total opposite of what we do at Tidy Books, where everything is made with sustainability in mind. I don’t design to fit into a trend but focus on well made, timeless products that don’t date and can be passed down from sibling to sibling. I want our products to stay in your home – not end up in landfill.
It surprises me when some people ask why our products are more expensive. When something seems cheaper maybe there’s a hidden cost like cheap factory labour or a cost to the environment such as the use of toxic lacquer. If you buy one thing that you cherish and that lasts, surely that makes more financial sense than buying something cheap and cheerful that soon gets chucked away for more of the same? One of our customers told us she’d had her bookcase for 15 years and it was still going strong. Quality costs less in the long run – and sustainable furniture costs the environment less too.
I’ve always been quite eco-conscious and I’m not into buying something new just for the sake of getting the latest, trendiest model. I think that might be down to my upbringing – I was brought up in France by my grandparents, who were of a generation that never wasted anything and only bought what they needed. My appreciation of timeless quality was also instilled in me in my former job as a violin maker creating musical instruments that were designed to last for hundreds of years.
I can’t guarantee that your Tidy Books product will last quite that long but it definitely covers my ethos – to buy one thing well and keep it!
Do you look out for kid's designs that offer sustainability?
Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile. She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids. Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.