Sustain-ability: Too Much Shit
I've written previously about the death of the middle class. One of my points was that it's hard to find mid-level quality items -- everything is either really expensive or it's shit... and there's no shortage of the latter.
Since we have a teenager who seems to be growing out of clothing before they're even worn, let alone worn out, we make regular runs to Goodwill to donate. This seems fair because, since the kid has a clothing budget, there's a lot of shopping at Goodwill too. So it makes for kind of a nice loop.
Recently I had a car-full of stuff to donate. Some clothes and shoes, a couple of coats that stopped fitting over the summer, and some pet supplies for our cat (RIP). I took a cruise past the Goodwill truck nearest to me and they weren't open. So I drove over to the bigger, permanent facility. I was floored by the huge amount of stuff, both wedged under the unmanned truck and almost completely filling the parking lot. Just, all kinds of STUFF. Furniture, mattresses, construction stuff (sinks, etc.). And all of it looking beat up and near death.
|This is actually from a local Goodwill dropoff, |
though not the one I'm writing about here...
Part of this is due to rampant consumerism, I'm sure. But another big part of it is that most stuff you can afford to buy in the US is shit.
I run across this all the time. Reviews for products inevitably go like this:
"Great quality, I've had mine for 20 years."
"I bought one based on good reviews and it's complete crap!"
"Seems like they changed the design / materials / construction from the old ones."
"Used to be good, but when I got a new one, it broke right away."
"Ever since they were bought by X, the quality and services has just dropped."
I also see this with the products we buy, like the mattress saga I wrote about in the post I linked to above. Or some small kitchen appliances. With rare exceptions, you'd be better off buying a toaster, blender, or processor from an antique shop than a new one. Items I've had from my mom that are 30 years old are chugging along while newer items die rapid deaths.
Or look at the made for TV phenomenon -- interesting and innovative ideas so poorly executed that you're honestly better off without them.
We are absolutely drowning in shit.
Not just shit that we don't need (which we already know we have way too much of) but shit that we need but that's still poorly constructed crap. Complete with built-in obsolescence and an inability to be repaired. And this is what really frustrates me. Because it's one thing to suggest that people might not need quite as much fast fashion or cheap toys or disposable gadgets. It's another thing to suggest that you can't even have a working toaster or coffee maker. That a mattress that will last more than four years is out of the 99%'s price range. That you're just stuck with shit. Shit that will break, forcing you to buy more shit.
Who's seen this quote?