Vintage clothing shoppers and muscle car aficionados know it. Longtime carpenters talk about it.
They just don’t make things like they used to. It seems that the world of single-use has bled over into clothing, furniture, electronics and more. Rather than building things out of materials that last, cheaper components lower product prices in the short term while ensuring the need for replacement earlier than one should expect.
The story is deeper than this. More than any time in history, we have more stuff. Not necessarily well-made, mind you. Enticed by a bottom line that fills our on and offline shopping carts, we are gorging on low quality goods: the junk food of consumerism.
Add to this the reality that many of us no longer know how to maintain or repair what we already have. When something breaks down or needs mending, we either replace it, or hire someone else to fix it, sometimes at a cost that exceeds buying it new.
It’s tough to keep the planet in mind when replacing broken or worn out items can be relatively inexpensive.
Fortunately for Mother Nature, there is a resurgence of interest in keeping old things in circulation. Whether it be because global supply chains are stressed or budgets are strained, more of us are finding ways to resuscitate goods otherwise headed for the landfill. There is a satisfaction found in this heroic act, especially when we are involved directly in bringing something back to life.
YouTube and neighbourhood workshops are re-skilling us in the art of dying stained clothing, replacing cracked windows, repurposing chipped pottery and so much more.
Rather than run-of-the-mill fashion, cars or furnishings, those of us who seek out used and upcycled goods are in for one-of-a-kind items, often with great stories attached.
If nothing else, the past year of less travelling may have caused you to dive into more crafting and tinkering at home. With a little elbow grease and imagination, we save ourselves a trip to the store and gain a few bragging rights.
All of this requires a changed mindset, however. One that is infused with patience, humility and diligence – qualities most of us want to embody more, as it turns out.
If learning car repair, carpentry skills or clothes mending is not a likely reality for you anytime soon, there are still ways to support this circular economy. Shopping at consignment shops, garage sales and secondhand stores is a great place to start. Beyond this, there are those in your community who can mend, patch, rewire and sand the slightly bashed bits of bounty in your world for you.
When you do need to buy something new, look for quality. Even if this initial cost is slightly higher, you could save in the long run because of the well-made components and durable craftsmanship.
Instead of following trends, think of investing in pieces for your home, wardrobe and life that you will still enjoy for years to come. This is how past generations viewed purchases and, it just so happens, it keeps resources available for future generations.