Barriers to Zero Waste / Consumer Culture / Uncategorized

Malm Malfunction

Look familiar?

Just like 80% of Toronto’s population I’ve got an Ikea Malm dresser. It has that stylish minimalist design that was perfectly hip and an irresistible price tag that made it affordable to own a grown-up matching bedroom set. Unfortunately, the love affair with my dresser hasn’t lasted long. The drawers fall off the runners all the time, it wobbles when the cat jumps up, the screws need constant tightening and the cheap fibreboard bottoms have started to buckle under the weight of my t-shirts. Since I fancy myself a bit of a fixer-upper, I’ve tried to remedy some of the Malm’s malfunctions. For instance, when the bottom supports buckled I flipped over the fibreboard – ta da! (I’m giving myself probably too much credit for this ingenious idea but I thought it was pretty clever.)

Although I’ve managed to solve, or at least ignore, the problems with my shoddy Ikea furniture, many people wouldn’t take the time to repair, or put up with these issues. After all, at $150 bucks, just put it out on the curb and reward yourself with another trip to Ikea for the latest design and a side of meatballs. And while I find it hard to resist a trip to Ikea to play house in all those little set-ups, there’s a serious problem with the waste that this cycle facilitates.

I remember my Grandma telling me I could have her bedroom set when she passed. I remember opening the drawers to release the sweet scent of cedar. She would tell me, as I rolled my eyes in boredom, about the type of wood the china cabinet was made of and how it was part of a set that matched the large heavy dark wood dining room table. Each piece of furniture in that house was loved and accounted for as she planned to give the table to so-and-so and the dresser to another. Can I say the same for my Malm dresser? Will I bore my children with descriptions of the particleboard and birch veneer? Will they have memories of the scent of clear acrylic lacquer? Will I even have my precious Malm to pass down? Doubtful.

Fibreboard not included.

What happened to quality? What happened to owning things that would outlive you? To be fair, I don’t think anyone in my family took any of those beautiful furniture pieces (maybe one here or there). And although I regret it now, at the time I certainly didn’t want Grandma’s big old dresser, I wanted a Malm set! Like many, I chose temporary style over quality and endurance. And I think that’s the typical choice most of us make in today’s society. We want the stylish homes we see on design shows and we want them now. And places like Ikea are all too happy to provide us with that dream and satisfy our need for instant gratification. Since styles changes so quickly anyway what does it matter if it doesn’t last an eternity?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s quality stuff out there and much of it comes with an appropriate price tag. And that price tag is often what sets us off to the nearest Ikea. But what happened to saving up for something that you really want, saving for something that you’ll love forever?  We’ve become a generation of now and a generation of new. I bet my Grandma’s beautiful big old dresser is sitting in a vintage shop somewhere, maybe even a Goodwill. And who knows, maybe I could get that sweet scent of cedar for less than the cost of a Malm.

So when the inevitable time comes for me and my Malm to part, I’m going to resist the call of Ikea meatballs. I’m going to find something I love. I’m going to see if I can spruce up a vintage find with some modern new handles or paint. I’m going to find something that will last longer than I will.

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3 thoughts on “Malm Malfunction

  1. When the Fashion Mister and I first got together we bought an inexpensive pine dresser. I gave it a white wash but left it alone for nearly 10 years. This last year when I wanted to redecorate the bedroom, I actually took the time to sand it down, put two coats of stain and a varnish on it and even replaced the knobs. I’m rather proud of myself because in the past I would have just chucked it and bought new. It looks fantastic and is a daily reminder that with a little effort we can make the old and worn, fresh and useful again…wish I could do that with myself! :)
    Cheers,
    Laura

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