WE'RE EXPERIMENTING IN SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS DESIGN AND IT ALL BEGAN WITH OUR SHED

THAT AND A LITTLE CHOCOLATE + COFFEE

 

Photos by Mark Spooner

 

First we watched The Dark Side of Chocolate and decided as a family that we would only be eating fair trade choclate and coffee. Then, after committing to rebuild and old shed in our back yard into a modern work/live space and purchasing the first round of lumber for the walls and the roof we made a decision - for the rest of the shed project, whenever possible, we would only use three types of products below. How hard could it be? 

 

FAIR TRADE

We looked for items produced ethically and sustainably that take into account the welfare of the people making them. The goal of buying fair trade is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability. Members of the movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as higher social and environmental standards.

RECYCLED

As much as possible we purchased recycled, upcycled and reused items. Products made from discarded resources create less waste and often (but not always) use less resources and result in an end product that often has an interesting story to add to the final product. Reusing items also makes you look at the possibilities of the world around you in a different way.

HOME MADE 

We've got some woodworking experience, time spent on the sewing machine and general craftiness - but we decided to stretch ourselves a bit and try some new things. Making more things by hand has changed the way we view the products in our lives - we better appreciate the work put into the creation of each item we use while feeling less dependent on those things once we know that we can make them ourselves.


IT WAS/IS A LOT OF WORK

BUT WE ALL THINK IT'S WORTH IT

 

Recycling and reusing materials takes time - boards aren't straight, windows don't come in the exact dimensions you planned for, slider doors leak and need to be fixed and lumber needs to be denailed + remilled. Fair trade can be expensive - you have to be careful about where to spend your money when what you're buying is priced in such a way as to ensure that its producers get fair wages. This is the part that people usually don't see - we hope to show that more families can do this than you think.

 
Salvaged wood pulled from a dumpster. I ripped my favorite shirt loading it and had to drive 30 MPH the whole way home.

Salvaged wood pulled from a dumpster. I ripped my favorite shirt loading it and had to drive 30 MPH the whole way home.

Tim confidently rented a Bobcat and completely destroyed the yard in less than an hour - we had to hire someone to come in and fix it.

Tim confidently rented a Bobcat and completely destroyed the yard in less than an hour - we had to hire someone to come in and fix it.

For about a year it seemed like we spent all our time in the shed.

For about a year it seemed like we spent all our time in the shed.

Meg, Cole and Olive plaining down old mahogany decking to reuse as siding on the shed. It took 5 days and we burned out the motor in the plainer.

Meg, Cole and Olive plaining down old mahogany decking to reuse as siding on the shed. It took 5 days and we burned out the motor in the plainer.

We got a lot of help from friends who came out to lend a hand.

We got a lot of help from friends who came out to lend a hand.

It looks all good now that we're cleaned up, the deck is finished, the stone wall is built and we mowed the grass but building the shed and trying to going fair trade is a lot messier than it looks here. It can be difficult but we think it's worth it and hope that more families will give it a try.

It looks all good now that we're cleaned up, the deck is finished, the stone wall is built and we mowed the grass but building the shed and trying to going fair trade is a lot messier than it looks here. It can be difficult but we think it's worth it and hope that more families will give it a try.


Products and projects

 

What started as a "small" controlled project became something that wove itself into every part of our lives. If a focus on fair trade, sutainable and recycled could work for the shed (and be beautifully designed as well) then why not for the rest of our lives. We decided to go all in and attempt to go all fair trade, really push what we could do ourselves and try to work recycling into as many of our projects as possible. 

We're hoping to inspire more families to give this a try so we're hunting down items that we can all really believe in or making them ourselves and sharing our ideas with you. Our BLOG is where we'll chronicle the PRODUCTS or PROJECTS that we feel worth including in our shed, our home and our lives. Below are our latest writeups - you can click on their titles to read a bit about them and to see more images.