How DIY and the ‘IKEA effect’ make us green
The "IKEA effect" says that we value things we have built ourselves (even if those things are frankly a little crappy). I'd propose an extension — call it the "DIY effect," which says we tend to hold onto, repair, and upgrade things we build ourselves, breaking us out of the consumerist cycle of trashing what's old so we can capitalize on the (often-illusory) advantages of the latest and greatest.
A paper in the Journal of Consumer Psychology called "When labor leads to love" explores this phenomenon in a laboratory setting, concluding that
… participants bid 460% more for their own origami creations versus ones created by others, almost the market-driven value of cranes and frogs created by origami experts. The authors also discovered that participants thought others would value their origami creations highly, despite assigning little value to the amateur creations of others.
The "DIY effect" is hard to understand until you've experienced it firsthand, but here's my version of it. Almost 10 years ago, I picked up a bike for $25 from Decatur Yellow Bikes. Even though it was perfectly usable on its own, it needed a little work, so I took it back a couple of times to improve it with parts from the junk heap maintained by a crusty old bike mechanic from Berkeley.
Since then, I've done all the maintenance on the bike myself, though its needed little enough considering that for years it was my primary means of commuting into downtown Atlanta.
This bike is, objectively, a heap of junk, but riding it fills me with a sense of joy that has not been equaled by any other bike, no matter how fast or advanced. How many vehicular emissions and new bikes did this single donated bike save? It boggles the mind. That's the DIY effect at work.
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