I worked as a sales representative in a few places, and I’ve seen the scale of products being wasted. Didn’t sell? Throw it out. Burn it, tore it, waste it. Why can we afford such mass waste of our resources?
I must ask: does the environment have a limit to single-use goods production? By single-use I mean everything that breaks down and can’t be repaired in a reasonable price. Today if your toaster, smartphone, computer or car breaks, very often it’s cheaper to purchase a new one, than repairing the old one. We don’t have limitless supplies of resources necessary for production and distribution of consumer goods. It has to stop or otherwise we’ll run out of plastic, metals or other materials we use to manufacture our devices, cars, furniture, tools and other goods.
We have built our civilization on one main activity: consumption. And for centuries suppliers tried to manufacture and sell best-quality products to us for the lowest prices. But when technology went so far, that the production of best quality goods was possible, they realized that long-lasting quality isn’t as good for the profits as they were hoping for. The picture represents Mercedes W124, the last car Mercedes made without the bookkeepers intervention. First engine repairs were usually made after the first half of million kilometers. But what good is a product sold once and not generating any other profits? So the companies thought of something different… Selling a long-lasting product is bad for their books, selling a product that lasts for a short period of time is also a bad idea, unless you have a good explanation… And that is where PR dep. comes in. It’s what Toyota thought of and the idea, that helped them conquer the market: you don’t buy a product, you buy a service. This enabled companies to unlock the keys to customers wallets, constant contact makes selling much easier.
Moreover they have designed their products to run just for a couple of years, so when it’ll start breaking down, they will offer you a new model. The PR dep. will explain you and convince you, why you have to purchase the new model, that and the fact that components necessary for the repairs are more expensive than the market value of your car. So what’s it gonna be? Which color you like?
Cheap production in China has allowed us to buy millions of poor quality goods at very low prices. But is it really cheaper? Why can’t we produce long-lasting products, manufacture and purchase only the necessary components? It can be done, together with implementing newest technological advances. With today’s technology we can design our products to be upgraded in steps, something breaks inside my car, I put a new part. And again and again, and again. And after 6 years of putting new parts, each of them designed with newest standards but fitting for the place of the old one I have a totally new product designed and produced in modern technology. And don’t give me some BS that connecting the old one with the new one is impossible or very difficult, we design computers that can read minds, this is much easier: one new puzzle should fit the old one. The only thing stopping us from this is the greed of car industry.
This model is far more ecological and reasonable than buying everything new, every couple of years. This doesn’t concern only the cars, it happens with every manufacturer these days. Americans probably don’t know what’s a Nokia 6310i, but we Europeans do remember this phone, and it’s battery that could last for 10 days after 2 years of using it. Show me something like that in today’s models – and you call that a progress? In the past people imagined a little different situation in mobile market today.
Furthermore production is just one thing, storing, reusing and managing this huge amount of disposal materials is another. Today’s strategy of purchasing instead of repairing may be very profitable for the manufactures, but not for the world. Products that are more expensive, but tend to last longer are better for everybody, why did we eliminate them? Very soon their manufacture cost may turn them into luxuries we can not afford. We must start thinking: WHAT IF someday some material will end? The great journey to the landfill will begin. That will be the true goldmine of the future – the landfill.