Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Gripes: Cheap Stuff

Today’s gripe is about cheap stuff. In other words, consumer products made quickly and cheaply, not expected to have much of a life span.

When I was a kid (don’t groan, I won’t tell you a story I’ve told before), things were expected to last a long time, and if they stopped working, it was expected they’d be repaired.

Examples: a pair of shoes with a hole in the sole could be re-soled. A radio that stopped working could have a tube replaced and it would work again. Socks with a hole in them were darned.

My then-boyfriend (now husband) spent many hours working on cars that had problems, fixing vacuum cleaners or toasters or lamps. It was worth the effort put into repairing the items, because they were sturdy and would continue to give many years of excellent service.

But then came along the “disposable” society idea. Making things of cheap plastic and metals made the price low, so many people could afford the items. Along with the low price came the expectation that if the item stopped working, it was more economical to toss it out and buy a new one than to repair it. Soon, in fact, it became impossible to find someone to repair these items, even if you were willing to pay the price.

Thus, we can buy a printer so cheaply—sometimes cheaper than a refill of the ink it uses—that it makes no sense to have it repaired. Just pitch it and buy a new one. Cordless phone stop working? Throw it out and get a new one. Hole in your shoes? Into the garbage they go, and get a new pair.

For a generation like mine that worked for saving the environment, this seems like a terrible idea. Where do all those objects, many of them electronics, end up? Most of them go to a landfill. Just what we need, more garbage.

I’m not sure anything can be done to stop the flow of cheap, disposable items. But I reserve the right to bitch and moan about it! What about you?


Kim Cox said...

So true and add to those the glass soda bottles were turned back into the store or could be sold for a couple of pennies each to the bottling company. They were washed and sterilized and refilled.

I wish I could find a good shoe repair shop. I have a favorite pair of shoes (can't find new ones the same anywhere) that I would like to have resoled.

Elizabeth Delisi said...

You're right, Kim; finding a shoe repair shop is next to impossible these days.