Can “Money for Nothing” become Money for Something?

Photo of a door-turned-table from the show Money for Nothing
Are you willing to get creative with your trash?

Money for Nothing: The Show

My English relatives told me about an upcycling program on Netflix called “Money for Nothing.” The premise is that the host grabs things that people are about to drop off at the local recycling center (the “dump” or “tip” in Brit lingo). She employs her talents and those of local artisans to turn the castoffs into sellable items, and gives the profits back to the original owners.

In the episode I watched:

  • A furniture maker turned an old wooden ladder into a convertible library ladder/chair;
  • A blacksmith unbent a Jaguar suspension spring and hammered it into a beautiful mid- century Modern floor lamp; and
  • A mail-order company silver-plated Monopoly tokens, which were turned into necklaces.

The craftspeople charged for their work and did what they thought was realistic. And the original owners pocketed about 325 pounds total (about $430).

Wow, What a Concept!

I really liked the program. It showcased the craftsmanship and creativity of local, small businesses. The projects expanded the concept of upcycling, while demonstrating that the end uses were attractive and marketable. And the objects’ owners were portrayed as decent people who seemed to have learned something from the experience.


We are in Dire Straits

The title irked me. Money for Nothing! That’s the whole problem, that people see their used possessions as not having value! What about the work and resources that went into creating them? And the ecological benefits those resources provided? I was ranting inside.

Then I realized that the title sounded familiar, so I looked it up. Did the producers mean to reference the Dire Straits single? (You know it.) The idea behind that song was a complaint from a deliveryman about celebrity musicians making money by doing nothing. If so, what a joke on the unsuspecting Brits who made money just because they showed up at the tip!

But I am not laughing. The decent folks on the show are shown to be clueless about potential re-use of their items. How do we “think big, start small and seek impact” if we can’t fathom what that future might look like?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. This reminds me of my dumpster diving days at Stanford. Only I don’t understand why the folks who were planning to trash their goods get the money from their resurrected treasures. Shouldn’t the thrifty get the reward?

    1. Matt, thanks for reading my post! I think the idea is to help show people that value can be created from their stuff.

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