Of late I've been listening to some really great podcasts about living more sustainably and the fast fashion industry. Both were really eye opening (or is that ear openining?) and totally worth a listen. However, they also got me to thinking; what kind of impact does the collectables market have on Earth?
I've been environmentally conscious my whole life. Growing up in regional Australia, I've seen first hand the absolute beauty of the natural world and the horrible destruction of it at the hands of humans. While I have always tried to do my best for the environment, it's all but impossible to not have some kind of impact. However, I'm beginning to wonder just how much of an impact my hobby has.
When you think about it, the collectables market is pretty environmentally unfriendly. Take a single action figure, for example. You have all the materials that go onto making the figure; plastics, resin, paint, rubber, etc. You have the materials for the packaging; more plastic, cardboard (sometimes coated so it can't be recycled), paper, wire, sometimes styrofoam. There is all the waste that the manufacturing facilities produce, and then you have to get it to stores; road, sea or air freight and the environmental impact that comes with haulage of that scale. Then you drive to the store, pick it up, and drive it home (or buy it online, which is much the same result). And that's one figure. Do this a thousand times and it starts to add up. I'd hate to think just how much environmental impact is caused just by Funko! Pops, especially when 300,000 of them end up in landfill.
So, a little while ago I decided to re-evaluate my collecting; more carefully considering what I'm buying and if it's worth what I might be paying for it, as well as if it's worth the environmental impact it might have. Essentially, I want to try and concentrate on a "quality over quantity" + green mindset. For example, I could have spent £250 odd (plus shipping from Australia to the UK) on the collection of Boss Fight Studio's Phantom figures. However, they are only 10cm tall (for comparison, Hasbro's Marvel Legends are 15.5cm while NECA's recent Defenders of the Earth figures are just under 18cm). In all honesty, I just didn't feel the cost was worth it, and shipping something that far has a pretty big environmental impact. Instead I picked up the awesome Ikon 1/10th Deluxe Phantom statue for about £218 and was able to source it locally in the UK! A beautiful, high quality statue is much more desirable than several small action figures IMO, especially when said figures will most likely stay in their boxes. And having minimal environmental impact is a huge bonus!
As well as being more considerate with what I'm buying, I'm also trying to downsize my collection overall. This actually started last year when I was visiting my parents in Australia. All of the stuff I collected when I still lived there remains at my parents', so it was just as much an exercise in giving them their space back as it was parting with things I didn't necessarily want any longer. I made a decent dent, but there is much more to be done. All of the stuff I moved when to family or was donated. I sold some of the retro video games I had, because no one I knew wanted them and charity shops don't really take them. Still, I tried to make as minimal an environmental impact as I could by avoiding sending anything to landfill.
Back here in the UK I've only just started. Firstly I went through my Magic: The Gathering cards. I only ever play Commander now, and even then I've not played for a while, so apart from cards that were already in decks I've decided to get rid of all but one copy. In this way I'm able to move about 3000 cards. Unfortunately, MTG cards cannot be recycled, but I was able to sell them to a new player, so that's good.
Next, my wife and I will both be going through our bookshelves. We both love reading, which means we tend to fill up our shelves rather quickly. Of course, we also keep buying books no matter how big our "to read" piles become. The idea is to move anything we don't think we'll want to read again, or won't ever get around to. We're going to try Ziffit and see if we can get any kind of decent amount for the books.
Hopefully, all this will mean we'll have more space, save a little bit of money and reduce our impact on the environment. Collecting should not come at the cost of nature, and I'm going to try my hardest to make sure mine doesn't.