Ambassador or Reclamation Project: simplehuman and me

Until about two minutes ago, I hadn’t really noticed the black, smudged ding in the molding where the top if the garbage can smacks the wall with a plasticy clang about forty times a night. Or the bare metal and corroded spots on the dish drying rack, either.

Trash can and drying rack, your days are numbered.

Motivated primarily by my appointment as a brand ambassador by simplehuman, I have decided to perform a small experiment in the area of design and its impact on quality of life. I’m trashing my garbage and putting my old rack out to dry.

As a result of 20 years of living in boarding school faculty housing, having never undergone the right of passage that is a home mortgage, I am neither house proud nor handy. As a result of 14 years of raising kids, I am conditioned not to grow too attached to nice things. The result is a home that is functional and efficient, but shopworn.

When I look around, I most often ask: Why buy new stuff? Why buy nice stuff?

One answer to that question can be found at the Los Angeles headquarters of simplehuman. I was invited to Camp Simple as an incoming brand ambassador, accompanied on my visit by four vastly more qualified bloggers and fellow ambassadors. During the course of our day, a consistent message emerged. Whether we were hearing about research and development, quality control, or the overall product line, the impression was the same — these people care obsessively about the quality, reliability and functionality of their products.

You cannot fake enthusiasm over how fast the soap emerges from your dispenser (too fast for an Olympic athlete to remove his hand without getting soaped), or how smoothly the trash can lid closes, or how good the fingerprint-proof coating is on the stainless steel. You just can’t. The sincerity of the simplehuman team’s commitment to making the best tools for efficient living was complete. I was, frankly, envious of it.

But can that enthusiasm do anything for the productive but homely swath of white formica that is our family kitchen? Is it possible that just a few touches, just a couple of items — say a soap dispenser, a dish rack and a trash can, will make a difference if carefully chosen and of adequate quality? We aren’t spenders, but maybe having the good stuff might convince us that some upgrades are worth the cash.

So here I sit, typing in my kitchen, the very picture of “before.”

My reign as brand ambassador will last for at least a year, so expect to hear periodic updates about simplehuman products here. Up next, the “after.”