I’m so happy that Mercury has now gone direct. It means less breakdown and things finally moving forward. This past Mercury retrograde saw just about all my major appliances break down in one form or another. Rather than give you a boring list of what went wrong, suffice to say that it forced me to take a long, hard look at the finer print of guarantees and warranties of appliances like never before. This coming from a girl who is probably the most useless person you will even encounter when it comes to technical matters and working with tools. (Seriously, even to get my TV hooked up I need to call someone in.)
Thankfully, I lucked out. I have a penchant for retro and vintage items and styles for bygone eras and a lot of my stuff is actually from the 1960’s and 1970’s which means, that barring throwing them off the CN Tower, they are practically indestructible.
With a little maintenance and upkeep, they can probably run almost forever. I also like to support local charities, keep landfills clear and keep the underground economy going by frequenting places like thrift shops, second-hand stores, the Salvation Army or Value Village. Plus who can say no to a bargain or finding a treasure?
I have friends and family, on the other hand, who are the first ones out the door whenever a new gizmo shows up on the market. I really don’t see the need to buy a fridge that gives me a computer read-out of every item which is running low. I need a fridge which keeps food fresh or frozen. I don’t need a washer and dryer machine which can do algebra homework. I need machines which wash or dry accordingly. I think the list of “special features” as selling points has now gone over to the ridiculous.
Many companies prey on consumer ignorance and fears. Stuff from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s usually had 10-year, 25-year guarantees, sometimes even a lifetime guarantee was not unheard off. These days, you’re lucky if you get 1-2 years.
It’s called planned obsolescence. Where companies deliberately design stuff to break down right after the guarantee expires, thus forcing the consumer to go back out and buy something new all over again and repeat the process indefinitely. That’s how they make money. (I always thought it would be cool if some brainy engineering type would finally come up with a company which offered appliances with superior engineering and with a lifetime guarantee or lifetime replacement agreement (for new styles or designs) and retro-fitted appliances with a commitment to really being green. Buy something once and never have to think about it ever again. I’m almost positive they’d overtake the industry completely.)
This got me thinking on a deeper level about what a disposable mindset really means and what it does to people to say nothing of the planet. I mean, I could have just as easily threw everything out and got myself into debt by ordering all this new stuff instead of calling in the repair dude.
What happens when we take an equally dismissive attitude about disposing relationships and friendships? Disposing hard-won rights? Disposing all too quickly and not thinking of the after-effects when we don’t value things as we should? I think when relationships and human beings get too easy, too disposable, what it really means is that we don’t really need to enter into a meaningful relationship with it. It’s nothing, just get another one. It doesn’t mean anything because you can trash it and replace it, right?
I cited my appliances, but to give you another example, I have a pair of black leather Chelsea boots I bought 13 years ago in Istanbul. These boots have literally taken me all over the world. I have worn them during crucial events in my life. They go with almost everything in my closet. I have had them repaired and resoled many times over and they are still going strong. If they died tomorrow, they would be irreplaceable. Because not only do the shoes go, but so do all the memories, some happy, some bittersweet, some sad which come with them. That’s the kind of stuff that makes us human, not robotic consumers and I really do think we’d all be better off if there was more of the former than the latter.