Tamara DiMattina

3 October 2012 – An exciting new project masterminded by social entrepreneur Tamara DiMattina,  founder of Buy Nothing New Month, will see two people live in a pop-up house in Federation Square in Melbourne for five days from Monday 8 October. The challenge is for the pair to beg, borrow, swap and buy second hand almost everything they will need for the week. They will need to maximise their available resources while doing more with less.

As highlighted through events like Buy Nothing New Month,  a new awareness of conscientious consumption is emerging. This project, dubbed The New Joneses, encapsulates the concept of stylish, sustainable living in a very public way.

For The New Joneses the challenge is living it up, not keeping up.  With numerous organisations, including some charities on board, as well as award winning British chef Douglas McMaster, from Silo By Joost, Melbourne’s Waste Not cafe to source and cook for a VIP dinner party to be held at The New Joneses temporary home, there should be no shortage of fun.

The New Joneses

For five days the concepts of reuse, recycle, renew, revive, re-fashion and up-cycle, including perhaps a few others we haven’t heard of yet, will be taken to a whole new level and applied to a living experiment in maximising resources by The New Joneses.

Using just social media and the services of a few generous volunteering organisations, businesses and individuals, The New Joneses – Camilla Jackson and Adam Stayfer – will be totally reliant for sourcing clothing, food, bedding and furniture.

They will arrive on Monday at their new home in just their underwear and bathrobes.

And where will they call home you might ask?

The New Joneses will live in two, one bedroom modular apartment homes called Klik, built by Unitised Building, designed by architects Elenberg Fraser.

In keeping with the theme, the Klik modules maximise resources and minimise waste in a number of ways and will be reused once The New Joneses move out.

UB spokesperson Michael Argyrou says the prefabricated construction meant the factory where the units have been constructed use very few waste bins.

“Waste not, is the cornerstone of UB’s philosophy,” Argyrou says.

“Minimum waste, nil offcuts and any waste that there is, does get recycled.” Of the little waste that is produced at the UB factory, 100 percent is recyclable. On most construction sites, 25 per cent can be recycled.

Each of the homes are also thermally efficient. Each features a spray-on foam that creates an air gap, which acts like a thermal chimney and allows the heat to rise and escape from the building. UB has engaged some PhD students to further refine the design and thermal qualities of the modular homes. The end aim is to do away with any additional heating and cooling, such as airconditioning.

Argyrou says the Klik range will have other superior qualities. “Testing shows they’re acoustically better, have thermal and structural integrity, they can stand up to earthquakes, there’s not as much expansion and contraction like in other construction materials and manufacturing is done to a much higher standard than you get with on-site construction processes. There is a strong link between quality and sustainability.”

The New Joneses temporary home is from a new line of modular living spaces developed by UB in collaboration with architects Elenburg Fraser. Once floor plans with the number of stories are selected,  options can be instantly and accurately costed, Argyrou says. “We are trying to make the whole design and develop process much simpler, much like buying a car online.”

For Tamara DiMattina, The New Joneses concept arose from “wanting to demonstrate that living sustainably isn’t about going backwards. It’s about innovative technology like that used by UB.  Here we have a clear example of how to be more efficient with materials, creating less waste, and developing products that are built to last.”

DiMattina is no stranger to The New Joneses approach.  “Second hand is my default mechanism now for clothing, furniture and decorating.  For me it’s a personal challenge to find great stuff but without the same impact of buying it new. Not to say there isn’t a lot of really ethically and sustainably designed and made new things; this is just how I chose to approach it.”

“I’ve always been really confused by wasteful consumption. Where does all the stuff come from? Where is it all going? How would we explain to future generations that we wasted their resources? I became really passionate about trying to have an impact on wasteful consumption when I was luckily chosen to go to Antarctica to learn about sustainability and climate change. I then undertook a fellowship at Centre for Sustainability Leadership that gave me the support and courage to approach this issue,” DiMattina said.

“The New Joneses are extending the life of existing goods. By sourcing their stuff second hand, sourcing their food locally with minimal packaging, through to the VIP dinner party that will be prepared for them in the house by a pair of award winning chefs using only foraged and foodstuffs that would otherwise be wasted; from start to finish, The New Joneses are challenging us to rethink how and what we consume,” said DiMattina.

Participants and contributors to The New Joneses include: Brotherhood of St Laurence, Sacred Heart Mission, Ian Potter Foundation, FedSquare, ecostore, Metropolitan Waste Management Group, Unitised Building, Elenberg Fraser, Leonard Joel Weekly Antiques + Interiors, mecubank, Flexicar, Silo By Joost, Sustainable Table.