Catherine Weetman talks to Sandra Goldmark in the United States. Sandra is a designer, teacher, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on circular economy solutions to overconsumption and climate change.
Sandra is the author of Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet, published in October 2020. Sandra is also an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Theatre and Director of Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College.
In 2013, Sandra founded Fixup (formerly Pop Up Repair) and began operating short term repair shops, and educational repair and reuse events, around New York City. We talk about Fixup, and Sandra’s new book, Fixation.
Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer. Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).
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Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.
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Links we mention in the episode:
- United Nations Systems Staff College free online circular economy course https://www.unssc.org/courses/circular-economy-and-2030-agenda-november/
- “Making America Great Again”: 3 ways the circular economy can help newly elected President Trump (and you!) https://www.rethinkglobal.info/3-ways-the-circular-economy-can-make-america-great-again/
- Instagram: @sandragoldmark
- Linked in: Sandra Goldmark
- Twitter: @SandraGoldmark
- Sandra Goldmark’s book – Fixation: How to Have Stuff without Breaking the Planet.
- Mierle Laderman Ukeles – Maintenance Art Exhibition brochure https://queensmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Mierle%20Laderman%20Ukeles_Maintenance%20Art_Brochure.pdf and Manifesto https://queensmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ukeles-Manifesto-for-Maintenance-Art-1969.pdf
- Repair Café Movement https://repaircafe.org/
About Sandra Goldmark
Sandra Goldmark is a designer, teacher, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on circular economy solutions to overconsumption and climate change. She is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice in Theatre and the Director of Campus Sustainability and Climate Action at Barnard College, and the author of Fixation: How to Have Stuff Without Breaking the Planet. Fixation uses a series of objects she fixed in her pop up repair shops to chart a clear path to a more sustainable and equitable pattern of consumption for individuals and businesses. Sandra has designed sets and costumes for theatres around the country, and is a co-author of the Sustainable Production Toolkit, a comprehensive guide for theatres to implement circular and sustainable design and production practices. In 2013, Sandra founded Fixup (formerly Pop Up Repair) and began operating short term repair shops, and educational repair and reuse events, around New York City. Fixup employs local theatre artists, stagehands, and technicians to repair broken household items, diverted over 10,000 pounds of goods from landfills, and has received coverage in the New York Times, BBC, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, WNYC, and Salon.com. Sandra asserts that our massive, global system of consumption — our use-and-discard culture — is broken. She wants to make it easy for people to take care of what they have, reduce waste from new manufacturing, and create local jobs. Sandra has a BA in American History and Literature from Harvard College, and an MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama. www.sandragoldmark.com
Provided by AI – add 3:45 mins for the finished episode
Catherine Weetman 00:04
In today’s episode, I’m talking to Sandra Goldmark in the United States. Sandra is a designer, teacher and entrepreneur whose work focuses on circular economy solutions to overconsumption and climate change. She’s the author of “Fixation: how to have stuff without breaking the planet”, published just recently, and read by me last week. Sandra is also an associate professor of professional practice in theatre, and director of sustainability and climate action at Barnard College. Back in 2013, Sandra founded Fixup and began operating short term repair shops and educational repair and reuse events all around New York City. We’re going to talk about Fixup, and Sandra’s new book: Fixation. Sandra, welcome to the Circular Economy Podcast!
Sandra Goldmark 00:56
Thank you, Catherine. It’s nice to see you and hear you.
Catherine Weetman 01:00
Yeah, good. Good to see you, too. So first of all, tell us a bit about your background. And what what led to this interest, this deep interest in repairing stuff?
Sandra Goldmark 01:11
Well, the short version is that I was home on maternity leave about seven years ago, and a bunch of stuff broke in my house, and I got super frustrated about it and felt like this is ridiculous, we should be able to fix things. The slightly deeper version is that I am a theatrical designer by training and I so I have worked with stuff with objects for many, many years, which I like maybe the combination of that deep history of working with objects and the kind of acute insanity of having a newborn, when people send you all kinds of baby gear, I think maybe those two parts of my life collided and somehow led to the repair shops.
Catherine Weetman 01:50
Great stuff. So tell us a bit about the first repair shop. And what happened there? How did you come up with the idea to actually have a pop up shop?
Sandra Goldmark 02:08
Well, so again, it was home with like this broken vacuum and all this stuff, and nobody would fix it for me. So I wrote a letter to Walmart, very logically, saying you should open a repair shop in the corner of every Walmart store around the world. And I was all prepared to send my letter to Walmart and my husband. You know, I showed him a letter and he said, Well, this is great, but maybe Walmart won’t read it or, you know, change their entire business model on the basis of this one letter. And I thought, well, there’s a certain logic to that – fine.
Sandra Goldmark 02:43
So I said, well, let’s just do it ourselves. Let’s open a repair shop. We’ve got tonnes of friends who work in theatre who know how to fix things. And let’s see what happens, you know, because he said, he said, when you send send to Walmart, you have no data. I said, Fine. Let’s get some data. And Michael was game lesson. So we just got a local businessman in our neighbourhood rented us his empty storefront cheap, and we made a sign and we, you know, went to our farmers market and told people, we were going to open our little shop, and we brought our friends in to fix things. And so we were sort of playing repair shop, you know, we’re all theatre people, we just were acting like we were repair shop owners. And we didn’t know if anyone would show up. And lo and behold, they did they started showing up in droves with all kinds of broken stuff, and we started fixing it. And that was the beginning.
Catherine Weetman 03:35
And you’ve learned you’ve done lots of lots of pop up shops along the way. And one of your interests was to try and work out what the business case was so that you could go back to Walmart or anybody else and kind of, you know, prove that repairs were both desirable from a from a consumer and society point of view. And also that it could be part of a business model. So what what did you find out along the way, on that?
Sandra Goldmark 04:06
Right, so after that first shop, we did as you said, I think we wound up doing over the seven years 12 or 14 shops somewhere in there. And somewhere along the way, we we stopped being a bunch of theatre kids playing repair shop and we actually became business owners. You know, we had licences, we had an LLC, we were charging our customers, we had to come up with a price list and get insurance. And so we it transformed from this experiment or this form of play into into a real business. And from the beginning, even when we were still just kind of having fun. It was fun the whole time.
Sandra Goldmark 04:39
But it even even in the beginning part of the play part of the experiment was charging. I knew that I wanted to charge for the repairs for a number of reasons. One, I’ve worked in theatre a long time, so I’ve done enough work for free and I wasn’t about to ask my friends to work for free, too. I was curious if people would pay for the service. I was curious where this act of repair fit into our mental notions of value, right economic value. And then I was curious where it fit into our larger notions of value, like, why is why are repair shops closing all around the United States and the UK? What What is it about this economic system that basically makes it so hard for us to make money doing it? And could we by changing things up by changing the business model? Could we actually make it work? Could we pair fixers and pay repair costs? So so that that, that question of the business model was there from the very beginning, there are a couple things interesting that we did to the business model accidentally, from the beginning, that I realised now or I realised halfway through were actually kind of these interesting disruptions.
Sandra Goldmark 05:52
So one was the the notion of rent, right? We from the beginning, we were in this little storefront that we, you know, we just we got cheap. But then very quickly, we moved to appearing at farmer’s markets or other events around the cities. So we, we could appear in multiple neighbourhoods all at once high rent areas. But we were paying very low rent in those areas, and very low rent in our shop to fix. So we kind of took this traditional storefront brick and mortar model and reduced a lot of the overhead costs because of being mobile, we always typically will always say Don’t you have to do a truck, we never actually did the truck. But that’s another way like food trucks have sort of upended some of the restaurant model as well.
Sandra Goldmark 06:32
And the other big business model innovation that we did was generalisation. So historically, repair services have usually been specialised, right? You go to your jeweller, you go to your cobbler, you go to your appliance guy, you go to your whatever cell phone person, and each of them is paying rent on a store a fixed storefront in a neighbourhood. So that’s five rents, right? That’s also five errands for the customer. And it’s an unsustainable model in today’s certainly in a big city like New York, that’s too much rent. And it’s too much trouble for a, you know, a family where often now two people are working. So by bringing all the fixers into one place, and allowing people to drop off everything that ranged from a lamp to a toy, to a chair, to a blender to a necklace, one stop, drop off, we actually we’re really disrupting this traditional business model. And so that that was sort of those were the components that we were playing with in terms of how might repair work in in 2020.
Catherine Weetman 07:39
And in the book, you talk about both the appetite from citizens, I hesitate to use the word consumers, because we shouldn’t think of ourselves as just consumers. So the appetite
Sandra Goldmark 07:53
Catherine Weetman 07:54
from people, yeah!, The appetite from people to get their stuff repaired, and emotional durability and, and all those other drivers. But you also talk about the problems of repairing modern technology, particularly and toys, and so on. So let’s, let’s talk first about some of the key barriers, what’s what’s, what’s making it difficult for repairs to repair stuff.
Sandra Goldmark 08:24
So while you raise toys that was like, the so we had an 85% success rate and fixed thousands of objects, 85% of them 15% were fails. The fails, were largely due to lack of parts. For appliances, almost all the fails, or appliances, lack of parts, or sometimes literally just the design of the object, like you can’t get in it. It’s so cheap, everything’s made of plastic, everything breaks the second you look at it. It’s funny mentioned toys, because we would always get these remote control cars, these little sad little child would show up with their, with their, like, kind of despairing parent and you could tell like this, like birthday present that the child had wanted for so long, had broken 30 seconds after they started playing with it.
Sandra Goldmark 09:14
And we had a horrible rate with those little remote control cars because they’re really cheap. They’re you know, it’s kind of all of the all of the repair fails, we’re always rolled into that one object cheap plastic poor design, impossible to get into. Sometimes you have to literally crack the casing like it’s glued together. And certainly no parts are available. I mean, you can’t even figure out who the manufacturer is much less get apart or a schematic drawing from them. So – but that problem extended to a really wide range of project products even going up to quite high end, you know, computer gadgets.
Catherine Weetman 09:50
Yeah. So in more and more types of products. You know, there’s there’s no question iteration of designing for repair or disassembly for recycling, you know, that it’s common to use glues and bonding and make things, you know, including particularly iPhones make them virtually impossible to even get into. So, so that was kind of, you know, something that you came up against time after time.
Sandra Goldmark 10:25
It was Yeah, I mean, and you can tell, especially Adam, our fixer who was kind of our electronic genius, he would, he would sometimes sort of let out this kind of shout of frustration when he opened something or when he had to crack the plastic case, or that has proprietary screws, so you can open it, there were I must say, some times you would hear him from his workbench, open something up and sort of say, Oh, this one’s great. Whoever designed this was a genius. You know, like he, once he was inside the object, he had a real sense of whether it had been designed to make the fixers task possible, and even in a few cases, easy. And those were kind of dreamy,
Catherine Weetman 11:03
Yeah, dreamy, and few and far between! And what about, what about the barriers for people what, you know, we’ve talked about the cost of getting things repaired, and the, you know, multiple trips to go to specialist repairs. In the traditional repair model, what else is stopping people getting things repaired? Or what drives people to get things repaired?
Sandra Goldmark 11:31
Well, so yeah, so there’s two sides to that the driving people to was actually a pleasant surprise, because we found that people were really eager for the service, especially when they found that we could fix all different kinds of things they would really light up, you know, they would usually bring us something that that, for some reason, people really think of appliances, when they think of repair, it’s like kind of the first thing that comes to their mind. So we got a lot of lamps and appliances, but then they would see us in there with the carpentry with the jewellery, with the toys, with the ceramics with the pillows, the textiles, whatever we were working on, and they would kind of sort of, you’d see those wheels turning in their head, and they would literally go home, get a bag of stuff and bring a bag of other stuff and bring it back.
Sandra Goldmark 12:16
So and a lot of people would say to us, I, I, you know, the barrier for people is are three things, I think, one, there just aren’t enough fixers out there, you cannot find the service. And it’s a pain in the butt. Right. So we tried to overcome that in the neighbourhoods where we were, by being in a convenient place by accepting all kinds of items, all these things, but by and large, it’s not accessible. So that’s the number one barrier. The number two barrier I would say, for people is time, they lead such busy lives. You know, they have a limited number of things, errands that they can deal with. And again, we try to sort of ease that by a, taking all kinds of items and be appearing at these locations that were already part of their routine. So that’s why the farmers markets worked so well, they were already going there anyway, to get their food, they were already going with a little cart, you know, because they were going to bring their food home. So it wasn’t that big a deal to kind of pop the lamp in the cart and bring it down to us. And they were already used to bringing that cart home from the market. So when we came back with our fixed item, they just again, they they didn’t have to develop a new chunk of time in their day, they can just fold it into their marketing routine, which I think is really interesting as a business model idea because it means that we were at farmer’s markets, but it could also be part of the grocery routine, right? You’re always going to the grocery and, and having to bring the stuff home anyway. So that’s it. So and then the third barrier, of course, is price. So that is like a whole conversation about price. Our prices, repair prices in general and the new price of the cheap the low price of new goods.
Catherine Weetman 13:54
Yeah, and I think this is an example I’ve talked about multiple times on the podcast because it’s it still rankles from, you know, probably over five years ago now. It’s the price of the spare parts. And often, you can’t just buy the parts like I needed a just a bearing for a washing machine. And I could hear it starting to go and thought I’ll replace this before it gets terminal. You know, and I’ve I’ve replaced bearings on my mountain bikes lots of times. So I’ve got the kit to do it. But you couldn’t just buy the bearing, you had to buy a whole drum assembly at £270, you know versus a new washing machine at £350. So, you know faced with that kind of choice, who’s gonna buy the drum assembly for kind of two and a half year old washing machine. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s all designed to kind of, you know, tick the box that in theory, you can get the parts but in practice, who’s gonna want who’s going to make that kind of decision. It’s
Sandra Goldmark 14:58
like when you really dig into The price stuff that is true, it’s also there’s interestingly, there’s, there’s, there’s a few more layers to it. So there’s an object like a washing machine. Because there’s, I think of it as, like, there’s these rational layers of why you might be fixing something, there’s, you know, resistance to just waste, which a lot of people still have. And then there’s an emotional reason, which may not have an emotional reason for your washing machine, though actually, surprisingly, a lot of people do have emotional attachment to like,
Sandra Goldmark 15:30
non sentimental items, but, and then there’s how it fits in your home. So for example, if you have a lamp, maybe you have a pair of them, that’s a really easy example, or you have dining chairs. So getting one dining chair fix actually saves you the whole set. So actually, for that repair, you might pay you people will pay a little more than you think, because they’re actually protecting their whole their whole dining set, or both lamps or whatever. But and even for some items, they’ll pay more than you might think, higher percentage of the replacement cost in order to be able to keep it I think the the ball bearing and the 200. You know, the entire washing drum is is kind of the example of where, where it gets bad. But I feel like it’s not as bad as or it could be like, it’s we’re kind of closer, I think, to it being possible, especially when we expand beyond appliances.
Catherine Weetman 16:26
Yeah, I think appliances, and you know, lots of things like that. Well, I guess the I guess the earliest example of Planned Obsolescence was a was an appliance in a way, wasn’t it – the the light bulb from the 1920s! You know, making it last a few thousand hours instead of you know, 10s of thousands of hours.
Sandra Goldmark 16:49
Yeah, a great documentary about that.
Catherine Weetman 16:52
So how, how’s something like Fixup and the pop-up repair centre concept, how’s that different to Repair Cafes?
Sandra Goldmark 17:04
So yeah, so people often confuse this with Repair Cafes. The basic difference is that we provide a drop off service and we charged and Repair Cafes are usually a free service volunteer, where you sit down with the fixer, and you kind of learn how to fix it yourself or you, you learn how they do it. We actually did some of those events as well, where we would do more of an educational style, but really, the bulk of what we did was drop off service. And I think I think Repair Cafes are great, I think they’re amazing. I think they’re a wonderful part of the ecosystem. I also think that not everybody has the time to like, really sit down at length with a fixer and like get in the innards of their microwave. And I think that’s okay, too.
Sandra Goldmark 17:50
And I think I think it’s really important to have a whole rich variety of ways that people can get things fixed. I think it’s kind of like food, right? Like, sometimes, I’m going to go to a cooking class and like really learn how to make a sourdough bread. Sometimes I’m just going to make something quick at home, sometimes I’m going to order in, we actually want all of those different varieties of how we make food because and we want them all to be supporting this broader notion of like healthy consumption. And that’s where I think Repair Cafes and drop off service and eventually big business to our need to be part of that ecosystem as well.
Catherine Weetman 18:29
Hmm. And that’s a great link to the because you use the food analogy in your book with a riff on Michael Pollan’s “eat food, mostly plants, not too much”. So tell us tell us about your remaking of his, his motto?
Sandra Goldmark 18:49
Yeah, so I felt like, I felt two things. First of all, it seemed to me very basic, that food and stuff are related, right? that these are, are part and parcel of how we exist and survive in the world. As human beings, you know, we take things from the earth, we transform them, and then they give us sustenance or shelter or survival, right. Both cooked food and toolmaking. And objects are totally central to every single human culture. There are also both huge global systems that are totally trashing the planet, systems of extraction and manufacture and distribution, it’s really very similar for food and stuff. At the same time, there’s been this amazing food movement that emerged, you know, at least 4050 years ago and has been going strong. And I think that there’s a lot of wisdom there that the what I call the stuff movement can learn from like, basically in terms of stuff. We’re not as we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We can look to what the work that’s been done in food and learn from it and adapt it. So I literally did that. I looked at an amazing food writer, Michael Pollan. And I, I loved the way he took this complex problem and didn’t try to dumb it. Down, enjoy the complexity dealt with the complexity, but also provided these really clear steps. So I tried to adapt those steps for stuff as he said and say, have good stuff. Not too much, mostly reclaimed. care for it, pass it on.
Catherine Weetman 20:17
Yeah. And then in the book, you kind of talk us through those, those stages, don’t you with, you know, examples from the pop up shops, and from the conversations that you had with people about why they were so attached to a, you know, what seemed to be a simple and sometimes even quite cheap object. But what you know, that emotional durability and so on, and the caring, you majored in on on that, so it wasn’t just about, get it repaired, it was about, you know, treasuring objects and, you know, take taking responsibility, I guess…
Sandra Goldmark 20:57
Yes, sometimes treasuring, and sometimes just taking care of it, like, you know, what, I realised partway through the repair shops, actually pretty early that it wasn’t really just about repair, you know, repair is just one part of this whole pattern, and it’s a way in, but you really, you really can think about the whole cycle, what you what you buy, where it comes from, how you take care of it, and what happens at the end. And that’s really what the book is about. It’s not really about repair.
Catherine Weetman 21:24
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s very true. And one of the themes I’m starting to use in in talks, particularly when it’s talks to community groups, and so on, is to say that I think there’s we’re starting to have a shift from consuming to caring, so caring about what we’re buying, who made it where they paid fairly? Is it made from sustainable materials? Is it going to last is it repairable and what’s going to happen to it at the end of its of its use cycle, you know, when I finished with it, I think people are starting to get, you know, really much more interested in that. And it’d be interesting to see how that evolves, you know, post pandemic, I think people are starting to realise, you know, because of the force changes that they’ve managed without buying stuff. And that, you know, it’s, it’s quite freeing not to have to have a different outfit, every weekend, or all that kind of stuff that we hear about youngsters having to do that, you know, when you’ve worn it once and posted it on Instagram, you can’t wear it again. And you know, that must be pretty stressful. from, from my perspective. So how do we move on from all this stuff? How much of the problem is about us? And how much do you think is about marketing and strategies of Planned obsolescence? You know, fast, we’ve had, we’ve, we’ve had him was still living with fast food we’ve had, and we’re still living with fast fashion. And now we hear that, you know, it’s fast furniture, fast technology, lifecycle of everything is speeding up, isn’t it?
Sandra Goldmark 23:06
Well, I think like, just sort of, to lead into that what you were saying about care really resonates with me, like, I really think it’s all about that, like, and how can we build a whole economy based on care, right, like, what would a care economy look like, where we actually value these acts of care, and where we, we, we pay for them, I do think that the pandemic has really kind of showed people and it’s not just about blenders and you know, toaster ovens, but but it’s related has showed people how much we devalue care when you look at like, at least here in the United States, some of the crises around like home health aides and elder care and teachers like all even, you know, infrastructure and maintenance work at the city and national level, all of this type of work of maintenance and care is just totally devalued.
Sandra Goldmark 24:02
And and the new and the shiny stuff is so so pushed, and I guess this is getting what you said, like, is it us, or is it marketing? And I guess I think it’s both like, on the one hand, I think it’s okay to like shiny new things. Like we’re human beings. We’re like a little bird that sees a shiny piece of tinfoil on the ground and we want it like, that’s okay. It’s it’s kind of a wonderful thing to have a shiny new object. It’s a blessing. And it is like, often, really great. But we do have naturally I think, as humans, we also have an attachment to older things, right? We have a kind of aversion to waste. And I think we’re the were the economic and the marketing part comes in is that right now our society only supports the latter impulse. So your impulse to get something shiny and new is super facilitated, organised, made frictionless by all of this out apparatus of manufacturing and advertising and clicking. But your impulse to like keep your washing machine or keep your old like plaid shirt that you really love is not supported by the infrastructure of our economy. And so if we actually built an economy around care, like you’re implying maybe we could make not only make it easier for us to keep our stuff, but acknowledge that impulse value it and pay for it.
Catherine Weetman 25:27
Yeah, that’s a good point. And it reminds me of what Patagonia are doing with the Wornwear store, which frustratingly for me is only available for delivery in the United States. But they have three categories of kind of quality, I suppose, or, you know, the, how good the, the used garment’s going to be if you’re going to buy it. But in each of the descriptions about those, those levels, they kind of remind you that, you know, the scars are stories. So any any little, you know, tear or worn bit in a jacket, or something is how somebody else’s has used it, doing stuff that they love to do, whether that’s climbing, walking, or whatever.
Catherine Weetman 26:17
And so they’re kind of trying to encourage the new user of somebody else’s pre love stuff, to value those scars as well, because they help tell the story of you know, what this garments gone and done before it arrived at your hands. And I think also that that brings me back to something that you included in the book, which I found really interesting, which was the work of Ukeles. And quite a long time ago, you you would you were saying 40 or 50 years ago, and the description that you know, there are generally two types of work in human society, development work and maintenance work. And that, you know, were was that the maintenance works ended up being completely devalued by society, you know, what you were just saying about teachers and nurses and cleaners and so on. And so tell us a bit more about about that work and where that’s led you to.
Sandra Goldmark 27:14
So Mierle Laderman Ukeles is an artist and I, I really wasn’t familiar with her work, I was doing these repair shops, and I had these two little children who basically, you know, basically carrying and maintaining for them all day long. That’s all you do. It’s like, and I remember when I was younger, I used to say, maintenance is so lame. You know, you could spend your whole life just maintaining your life and I meant kind of cleaning a room and balancing your chequebook back when we had chequebooks and going to the doctor and vacuuming and then cleaning up at you know, I just thought you could do the whole week ago by where you didn’t actually do anything real or important. I remember specifically saying that about maintenance. And I think I sort of associated that type of work with my mother because in our family, she is the one who did that work largely in terms of like cleaning, getting people to the doctor, like keeping the engine running, you know.
Sandra Goldmark 28:11
And so I went to this exhibit at the Queens Museum of Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ work and I was just – this is in the middle of like spending years fixing people’s dirty toasters and literally like cleaning the gunk out of their pearl necklaces. Like it’s gross in there, when you really get into this stuff like it is repairs is maintenance. And there’s there’s some grossness and, and and feeling like it was so hard and you know, on tough days feeling like, this is never gonna work, you know, and I go to this museum exhibit. And here’s this woman who in 1968 started after she had a baby, that’s also when it hit her too. And she did created this artwork about maintenance. So she had, you know, washing diapers and cleaning the steps of a library. And then she went on to take photographs of office workers who cleaned this huge office building in New York. And, and she was basically saying, Look at this work, look at this invisible work. And and can this be art? Instead of just making a new sculpture or making a new thing? can we can we make this work visible? And can we give it value by by calling it art by making it art by naming it?
Sandra Goldmark 29:26
And I thought it was so powerful and beautiful and it and it maybe it’s sort of crystallised, it’s like when you see something or somebody puts something into words so much better than you can and I thought this is it. It’s like she has a manifesto, where she talks about that work of maintenance versus the work of development and the tension and how, you know, I think they both have value. It’s not that we don’t need new things we do. It’s the imbalance right now. And the gender part of it was really interesting to me like she’s, she really goes there she she went to Barnard where I teach and she, you know, the work of care is is feminised in our society. It’s often women, people of colour and it’s usually paid less like it is very literally, like concretely devalued. And so anyway, her work was just so exciting for me to sort of see it all, all put out there and put out there in 1968. And she she links it to climate change to in 1968 she says, we have to value maintenance, we have to go there because these people’s lives are in the balance and the planet is in the balance.
Sandra Goldmark 30:26
Yeah, and there was you know, she did it.
Catherine Weetman 30:30
And here we are in 2020 realising how still struggling care is you know, not just caring for the second the elderly was world you know, at risk from Coronavirus and so on and how important it is for that, for that human connection. And that and that care between, you know, people in society as, as well as caring for living planet and caring for the for the stuff that we have, instead of just, you know, getting that quick buzz and then waiting for the next exciting advert to persuade us that we need this next next new thing. Brilliant. So, so the books launch now, am I right? And I had an early copy of it for which thank you very much to your to your PR team really enjoyed reading it. So it’s, it’s
Sandra Goldmark 31:23
Yeah, I think it’s out. It’s out. And I think it’s out in the UK as well.
Catherine Weetman 31:28
Brilliant. So I’ll put the links to that in, in the in the show notes. And if people want to find out more, so obviously they can buy the book fixation, how to have stuff without breaking the planet? And how else can they find out about the work that you’re involved in Sandra?
Sandra Goldmark 31:48
Well, they can go to my website, Sandra goldmark.com. That’s one, probably the best.
Catherine Weetman 31:53
Okay. And we’ll put that link in in the show notes as well. And, you know, what, what, what are you working on next What? What’s your next passion? Or? Or is it still going to be around repairs and fixing things? And?
Sandra Goldmark 32:11
God such a good question. I have a lot of fun projects on my plate right now. And I don’t know yet where I’ll go I’m working on. We’re working on something at Barnard called circular campus. I’m working on a really exciting project at Columbia. And there’s so much going on in the world of circular economy and repair and reuse. That is it’s really exploding, which I think is so so exciting. So I don’t know yet you know, what my role are, you know, part will be in that little drama, but it’s really exciting to see it starting
Catherine Weetman 32:48
great stuff. So maybe we’ll be able to check in in a few months and find out what what’s happening at circular Barnard. And the and also, depending on the election results in the US in a week or so whether there’s a shifting, you know, towards a circular economy, or whether we’re still on the take, make, waste treadmill. Let’s, let’s keep our fingers crossed that, you know, the next the next term brings a circular transition.
Sandra Goldmark 33:19
Catherine Weetman 33:21
So yeah, sorry to end on that potentially depressing note!
Sandra Goldmark 33:26
No, I’m actually going to vote right now after this recording. I’m like, kind of excited. I’m voting early, and we’ll have to teach my class and then I’m going to go vote. here we come. This election is happening. Yes.
Catherine Weetman 33:40
Yeah. Brilliant. So Sandra, thank you very much for talking to us about Fixation and, and Fixup. And good luck with your next projects at Barnard College. Look forward to hearing more about that in the future. And, yeah, let’s wait and see what happens in the election. So even in the UK, it’s quite exciting. Again.
Sandra Goldmark 34:06
Well, thank you so much for having me, I really enjoy talking with you. And I hope that people you know, one of my hopes for fixation is that it speaks to businesses or people like you who are really understand the topic of circular economy, but also for people who maybe have heard it but don’t exactly know how to put it into practice in their own lives. Because actually sort of living a circular economy life. It’s actually something people already do. It’s not that hard. It’s not very complicated, you know, and businesses and policymakers can help make it easier. But the book is a little bit trying to sort of take something that might seem abstract and connected to these practices that many of us already engage in and just need to like, turn up the volume on.
Catherine Weetman 34:47
Yeah, I thought that I thought the book was brilliant. It’s a, you know, a really digestible, read, very thought provoking, not just for those people who are, you know, really keen on the circular economy. But for anybody, you know, at any stage of their lives to just get them thinking differently about the kind of stuff that’s that’s in their house on the way that we just adopted habits without thinking really. And, you know, how we can take more care and responsibility for, you know, are impacted in just simple little ways. So brilliant. Thank you very much.
Sandra Goldmark 35:28
Thank you, Catherine.
Want to find out more about the circular economy?
To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach. It includes lots of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy. Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable.
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Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’. Or, follow them on Twitter.