Friday, June 10, 2011

Disposable Me

Trash Talk

One of mankind's biggest weaknesses these days is our shortsightedness - our lack of willingness to do things that would benefit successive generations, long after we're gone. For instance, to engineer products that are so hard-wearing, our great-grandkids will be using them. Some of it is, sadly, willful. Products are made to be disposable - one use (or a few) and we toss them out. Razors, plastic bags, dinnerware. All that stuff goes into a landfill, and much of it won't biodegrade. This is the easy stuff. Everyone can take that step toward reusable grocery bags. But there are other issues at stake, less obvious.

Vroom, Vroom

Cars. Can you really believe that with all the technology available, we haven't been able to engineer a car that can run 100K miles before it even starts showing signs of wear? That we haven't made more of an incentive out of choosing hybrid or electric cars when purchasing a vehicle? That we can't make it more practical for a consumer to think pro-environment? Nobody comes forward with the technology, because it benefits the auto makers and oil companies to continue producing something you have to keep buying, fixing, and gassing up. Good for their pockets now ... bad for the planet later.

Let's face it. Consumers need a reason to choose pro-environment ... and while pro-environment is the pricier option, with no visible return, most folks are going to choose what appears (right now, and superficially) to be the cheaper choice. Hybrid cars are more expensive, with perhaps one or two examples earning back their investment (financially) over the course of the car's lifetime. My next car will be a hybrid, regardless of up-front costs, because it's environmentally the right thing to do. Without incentive to turn to sustainable practices, the oil and auto industries will continue to make those cash-cow products. It's a social mindset we need to change. And because money is what concerns them most, your dollar is your biggest and best voice. Where you put your money is where the manufacturers will put their efforts.

Fix It And Forget It

Recently I was treated to an irritating example of this throw-away, buy-more mentality. My Crock-Pot's plastic knob broke. I have had this appliance for nearly nine years of light use (as compared to my mother's thirty-year-old model, which is still kicking with its original parts). The Crock-Pot website does not list a replacement part for this knob, and I can only assume that's because they want you to buy a whole new Crock-Pot for $50-plus. Mine works fine ... it's just missing the knob. Also, no replacement knob anywhere on the Internet, by the way.

Off I went with my irritation to the local hardware store for a universal replacement. Crock-Pot, however, designed the pin that holds this knob just oddly enough that any old knob isn't going to fit.

Enter ingenuity. I bought, for five bucks, a tube of heat-resistant epoxy putty. I will fill the backside of the old knob with it, stick it on the pin to assure a good fit, and let it dry. New knob and fifty bucks or so in my pocket. Dinner, I am sure, will taste that much better.

Fix It And Remember

Your grandparents were good at thinking ahead. Root cellars, canning, homemade solutions to daily problems, tools that would last. Take a page from their books and revisit that old-fashioned, reuse-it mentality, because it's not a new concept - just a forgotten one. The knowledge is out there. The Internet and library are full of resources.

Spend your money in smart places. It takes a little more money up front to buy something that will last ... but it is worth it, I promise you. And the earth will thank you by being beautiful for your grandchildren.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful article, I couldn't agree with you more.

    We have lost our "fix it and use it" mentality. All things, from replacement dinnerware pieces to electronics are tossed and repurchased. Are we spoiled or just lazy? I'm not sure.

    Judy Pickering
    Dogwoods Dish Barn