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Nostalgia Unites the Trendy and the Timeless

September 22, 2009

It seems that the old has become fashionable again. With shows like Mad Men taking home Emmy awards for their portrayal of the 1960s advertising world, and the who’s who of New York popping into an updated Monkey Bar with it’s dark leather booths and supper-club feel, old is new. We’ve seen this trend other places as well, from the return to the classic cocktail (or perhaps classic ingredients) to the growth of antique markets and their followers. It may be a sign of the times, of the economy, but it is also nostalgia and the notion of the timeless.

So what can these trends tell us about the state of the environmental world? Well, for one, the idea of the disposable is losing momentum. For a long time now, we’ve clung to trends that are fleeting and that yield waste. We, especially as Americans, have a fetish with the disposable. Interior design trends, the always changing restaurant scene, the ‘it’ products, new vehicles, shifting fashions have all made us think that we need the newest, the best, the most up to date. And usually, that means throwing away the out of date.

But with the recent nod to the past, we as a culture are changing our values to include things that last. Consumers are looking for strong, well-build furniture that will last and finally challenging themselves to think about environmental ramifications of purchasing IKEA furniture that may only maintain its quality for a few years. We are looking for the ‘classics’ in restaurants, foods, and cocktails and are hoping to join in a legacy of the greats rather than hide in an exclusive, dark corner booth. More of us are finding ways to wear those old clothes and accessories that we thought we never be trendy in ways that look new and stylish.

Whether prompted by frugality, environmentalism, or other reasons we ought to celebrate these trends because they are driving us to be more responsible. There is a certain feeling. . . a certain nostalgia in the old, and that feeling is something that a bright, shiny, new object can never re-create.

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