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On preserving and remembering

Wildling wants to strengthen the connection between people and the environment. A basic prerequisite for that is being aware of our ecological responsibility as a manufacturing company.

We all love our Wildlings and give them lots of tender loving care so they can carry us through daily life for as long as possible.

But what about all the other things that are around us every day? If the stitching suddenly goes on a favourite teddy, or the socks Grandma knitted are starting to get holes, they don't necessarily have to go into the bin.

“Ecological responsibility” - that sounds about as heavy as the old set of encyclopaedias on our grandparents’ bookcase. Twenty-four volumes. Can you carry them all at once? Hardly. Learn and remember all the contents? Unlikely. But taking out a volume every so often, browsing the pages, noting interesting facts, wondering at odd ones, reading it aloud to others... You could spend a whole evening doing that.

How about if, instead of taking all 24 volumes of the “ecological responsibility” encyclopaedia off the shelf and learning it by heart, we simply look at one volume more closely, browse a bit, chuckle and get inspired by the content? This time we in the team have taken the “Upcycling/Turning Old into New” volume off the shelf.

When we asked the team for examples of old, used and smartened-up things, what we got was much more than just a collection of instructions for making Christmas stars out of lollipop sticks. We ended up with a great mix of ideas, anecdotes, memories and stories. Not all of them are suitable for sharing, but some of the ideas and memories can definitely go out into the world.

Inherited items tell stories

“One time my youngest child’s godfather brought us a box of toys from his childhood. We're about the same age, and as we rummaged in the box it brought back so many memories of my own toys. My mother still has a few of my old children's books, timeless classics. When I read aloud to my kids, I feel transported back to that time, and I feel even closer to them on an emotional level – because I remember all the feelings and experiences that I had at that age.”

“We still have lots of furniture from my grandma and uncle. A television cabinet made of wooden pallets, and oak beams from our house as a toilet-paper holder. Crockery and my beloved bread knife that used to be Grandma’s. We’ve turned a garden rake into key hooks. We love giving old things a new lease of life.”

“When I go through our house, almost every piece of furniture or appliance has a little story behind it. And somehow those stories always pop up briefly in the back of my mind. We got lots of things second-hand from friends, and so every time I go past the living-room shelves I think – just fleetingly – of the friend who passed them on to me back then when she moved. It’s the same with the other furniture. It may be that things don’t match in our house, but it always feels a bit as if the people who gave us the things are there with us.”

“I’ve got a few things in the kitchen that I inherited from Grandma. An old chopping knife that you can sharpen. An old-style tin opener for the milk tins. You can't get things like that anymore. A gadget to help you open jar lids. The cot I slept in as a baby is now in my sister's attic. My children and my niece also slept in it. Perhaps later on my grandchildren will too.”

“My grandpa was a trained book printer, and his first letter case (a drawer) is now on the wall in the children's bedroom, being used to display small treasures, figures and so on.

“I think I can count on the fingers of one hand how many pieces of furniture we actually bought new. The rest were inherited or bought second-hand. Our son Henry (2) rocks on my husband’s old rocking horse and rides my old tricycle. For Christmas he's getting my old children's cooker – currently being spruced up by my mum.”

“When my grandparents had to go into a home I took a single piece of furniture – an old Grundig stereo system cabinet – painted it white and repurposed the inside (originally intended to house a record player) to hold small vases and my craft stuff. The radio sound is amazing (...even now!) and a perpetual childhood memory.”

“We use the old wash basin from the house that we took over five years ago, the kitchen clock from back then, and of course the old whimsical china and hundreds of pickling jars. Those we still use – prettied up with a drawer knob – as storage jars.

Rubbish becomes furniture (and other great things)

“We've built quite a lot out of old wood from the garden.

And when we moved we decided we’d rather spruce up our old, simple kitchen a little bit instead of buying a new one, as basically everything was still working well.”

“Unfortunately most places no longer have the fixed days we used to have in Germany for putting unwanted stuff out on the street. Because it's actually quite easy to breathe new life into used furniture found that way. Sand down, paint, re-cover – so a bistro table, cupboard, chaise-longue or serving trolley can become a very special unique piece.”

“Last summer we repurposed an old sink from the rubbish as a beloved mud table for the garden.”

Creating small unique pieces with needle and thread

“What I do a lot is take adult clothes that are worn out or no longer fashionable and make them into children's clothing. It's really quick to do and looks cute, because I leave things like the trouser waistband, button and pockets on without changing them, only adjusting the rest of the shape. That way I have less work (because I use as much as possible of the original clothes) and it’s a cool look because the proportions are so skewed.”

“We’re celebrating a wrapping-paper-free Christmas. Instead I’m making gift bags out of all sorts of fabrics (for example old curtains - I even still had some red ones!) – add a nice bow: done!”

“I collect old clothes from friends or buy old things and make new ones out of them.

Attached is a photo of a baby carrier cover. The material is loden cloth. That was an old women’s coat I picked up for €5.

I made a baby onesie out of an old men's cashmere pullover.”

“I got my grandma to show me how to darn socks, because I always wore holes in them after a while. Apparently my gait’s changed since then, because my socks now stay intact. But now I can darn my boyfriend’s socks. I also learned to sew from my grandma. If there’s a loose thread on my clothes or the handle of a shopping bag comes adrift, it gets repaired very quickly.”

“My mum once quilted a bedspread for me using clothes I wore as a child.

And I collect old pairs of tights with ladders. In autumn I stuff them with dried lavender from my balcony and our garden to make little bags that then find a place in various cupboards. Bagged up summer scent, if you like.

I cut up old towels and use them as reusable kitchen roll.”

“When I’m working on the computer I always have cold hands. So I simply made wrist warmers out of old socks with holes in the feet. A little cut in the heel of the sock for the thumb, cut off the toes to make space for the fingers – and my hands are warm”


Appreciation of old, second-hand and home-made

There are certainly good reasons for buying things new as well. A computer from 2005 will probably no longer meet our requirements, and the first piece of furniture you buy new can be associated with strong emotions and memories. Perhaps it's less about the age of the items and more about the value we see in them.

“Since having (almost) only favourite items, I'm much more motivated in general to repair them instead of just replacing them.

For example, my mum gave me a hand-made coffee mug from a pottery market. If that ever gets a crack I’d like to try out kintsugi – a Japanese technique where you repair broken crockery using gold glue, making it much more individual and valuable.”

Which things have been passed down in your family from generation to generation, from friend to friend, improved or repaired? Which items tell you stories from the past or other places?

Run wild! Anna, Ran & Team Wildling




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