In February, we lost our washing machine. After 7 years of service, the poor thing just died. And last week we lost the mighty Fisher and Paykel fridge. The death was slow and painful - and for a couple of days we thought we could save it. "I am calling the repairman" - Tanya was determined. But then common sense prevailed: the technician’s quote and the cost of parts and labour would only extend the life of the poor fridge for a year or two. Beyond that, the fridge would simply become too old, non-repairable, a burdensome machine. Not to mention all the inconvenience which goes with such a repair job: the waiting time on a service phone line, mid-day appointments which would require one of us taking a day off just to babysit the fridge, awaiting the serviceman. And that would be the best case scenario: what if the required parts are simply no longer available or not in stock? More scheduling, more hassle and more wasted time.
Australia is the fifth highest waste producer per capita in the world. Each Australian family contributes enough rubbish each year to fill a three-bedroom house from floor to ceiling. Yes it is true - we are getting better at recycling stuff. But here is a shocking statistic: only 1% of all items purchased are still in use 6 months later! Somehow, we got really good at both over-consumption and excessive production of short-lived, disposable items.
However, there are a handful of businesses who still take pride in making goods which will last 'forever'. I've googled three - in Texas! A Texas Instruments graphing calculator would easily last you 15 years. No wonder they hold a 93% share of the graphic calculator market - they are built to last. I had one as a kid, and you had one too. A leather Saddleback wallet can last decades and it is fully 'repairable'. Velvet Forge offers a solid straight razor that's made out of stainless steel and is resistant to rust and wear. The razor comes with a leather carrying case, and the company has your back for a lifetime of resharpening. Guaranteed for a lifetime!
And then there is that crazy watchmaker in Australia who designs his own watches, assembles each timepiece by hand - one at a time - and offers a 50 year guarantee on performance and 50 year free parts and labour servicing with each watch. The watch requires no power source other than old-fashioned winding, it is fully waterproof and has a little mechanical heart.
Landfill or lifetime? As always, the choice is yours.