I’m sure you’ve been wondering how things turned out with Emerson’s Art and Design Perspectives project I reported on a few weeks back–the one where he had to list, categorize, and analyze the environmental impact of every object he owns? Well, his final tally included nearly 1,200 discrete items. Here are some of his findings.
Only 21 percent of Emerson’s stuff was made in the United States. His apartment at the University of Michigan contains items that were made in 37 other countries. Paper is the most common material used to manufacture the things he owns (30 percent), followed by plastic (22 percent). The value of his possessions averages out to $24 per item or approximately 3 hours of Emerson’s time as determined by the pay rate of his summer job. As far as he was able to determine, 706 items–60 percent of the stuff he owns–are destined for a landfill.
Bottom line? “I have a lot of stuff,” Emerson writes in his final report. “The most important thing I can do is buy less stuff and to make sure that I know where the stuff I do buy comes from, what it’s made out of, and what implications it has for the environment and for human rights.”
Professor Trumpey gave him an “A.”