I've learned a lesson over the years: if you want it to last, you gotta buy the good stuff. It isn't just brand or expense snobbery. When I found myself buying a new couch yearly to keep up with my tough-on-stuff family, I took a harder look at how I was making my purchases. That discount couch was cheap up front, but what was I really getting for my money, when I had to replace it after such a short time?
The cheap stuff isn't always the best stuff, if it doesn't hold up to your use. And if you have to keep buying replacements, what are you really doing for the environment, when the old, worn-out things get kicked to the curb and landfill?
So, to Stickley we went, once I'd had enough and wised up. Our new couch was expensive, no doubt ... but it has put up with a lot, and while we might need to reupholster it, it still handles our rowdiness with good grace, years into its use. And it's nice to know I'm not filling up our landfill with another busted couch!
I found a solution for the outdoors, too. You'll have to excuse me while I geek out for a bit. This is Polywood furniture, made with heavy-duty recycled plastic lumber made from stuff like milk cartons. It has a grain like wood, and unless you're touching it or sitting on it, it really is hard to tell the difference.
We bought this bench a couple of years ago, and it sits in front of our house to welcome people who might want to sit (or me, when I need to set groceries down). I have laid on it to read a book while my son plays in the yard, and I've been known to catnap on it, too. It stays out over the winter, and a little soap and water is all it ever needs to clean it up. I liked it so much, I bought a set of Adirondack chairs and a "coffee table" for our back deck the following year. They stay out, too, and hold up to winter winds without budging. This year, I got some side tables to go with that bench, just in time for summer cookouts. I may never have to buy outdoor furniture again, and that's a nice thought.
Consider what kind of money you're spending to re-buy resources you use all the time. If you keep buying new to replace the old, maybe there's a longer-lasting solution. A little extra money up front might insure that your grandkids' grandkids will use what you're buying today. After all, laying out that money each time a poorly-made item fails might cost you more in the long run, in addition to costing the planet resources and disposal space. Buy what's built to last.