About Linda Schanfein

Board President

The Story of Stuff

I wanted to share an important video that illustrates how crucial PBD’s work in diverting furnishings from landfill really is. Watch The Story of Stuff.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Leonard makes it clear that the whole system needs to change. This may be uncomfortable because we’ve become so used to enjoying cheap goods, but that’s where we can see the recession of 2008-9 as a mixed blessing – it has taught many of us the hard way that we only need a fraction of what we previously consumed.

The Story of Stuff makes a big impact through its simplicity – set on a white background with Leonard narrating, the film makes creative use of animation to clarify the trajectory of the material objects in our lives. A survey of production to disposal of virtually everything we buy, The Story of Stuff makes the link between the politics of harvesting materials from developing countries and the super-cheap goods we can buy at Walmart. It also addresses the compulsion to consume resulting from peer pressure to the sneaky practice of planned obsolescence.

Green Tracker: Steelcase table

The PBD Board decided as the first product to “GreenTrack“, we would trace back an item that is near and dear to our hearts……….the Steelcase table that we have used for all of our meetings.  It has served us well…..and we wanted to know more about this very important piece of furniture in PBD’s life!!

Steelcase Model 854200, made in 1994, is a 42” round laminate table from their Avenir systems product line and is still made today. It’s standard construction, using methods and materials that have not changed in 26 years. It was made in Grand Rapids, MI with particle board core (mostly reclaimed wood waste from the woodworking industry or with Steelcase’s own wood products plants) a laminate surface, and a Vinyl edge.

The fact that this product used a Vinyl edge instead of PVC, which was used quite a bit in those days but, not any more, makes it much less harmful if it ever is eventually put into a landfill.

The most sustainable things about this table are (1) how durable it has been and how it will continue to live on in different environments and functions for many more years, and (2) how versatile the size and shape are. Being a 42” round table, it can work in a small conference room, a private office, a break room, a classroom, even in a home. Steelcase finds that the marketability of a furniture piece in the used furniture market can be the most important part of its sustainability story.

In comparison ….a panel wall with a fancy sustainable fabric (especially if you consider not only the materials but the embedded energy in that product from transportation, manufacturing, installation, etc.) might end up in the landfill after 20 years or going downstream at the recyclers. The Steelcase Avenir table may have a useful life of 100+ years, thereby amortizing that carbon impact over five times the useful life.

Since the table was manufactured 16 years ago, the records of who purchased it are not currently in the production system at Steelcase.  However, since it was 1994, they speculate that whoever bought it probably wore a J.Crew barn jacket and enjoyed watching “Friends” on Thursday nights.

Check in for our next GreenTracker , who knows it may be a product that has memories for you!!

Creative reuse is helping to build a better planet!!