Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thoughts on Old Office Chairs

Walking to work this morning I noticed a couple office chairs parked up on the curb. I was contemplating nabbing one or two (great for the studio!) but I was going the wrong direction and had no place to stash them all day. I gazed longingly at the chairs as I reluctantly moved past without snatching. I was wondering what was wrong with them they needed to be thrown out. The answer was blindingly obvious: the fabric had worn under the knees and was now showing off the foam padding. This is the normal place for such chairs to wear and in every other way they looked entirely serviceable.

It occurred to me that nothing in the world would be easier than for the manufacturer to add some reinforcement to that part of the seat. Then, just as quickly, it occurred to me that no modern manufacturer would do that. Why not? Because they want stuff to wear out and be thrown away so you’ll buy a new one. I would bet you good money that they even research the exact length of time it’s acceptable to the consumer that a product wears out within so that they still buy the manufacturer’s crappy-built-to-be-redundant-quickly products.

Remember when ever town had a machine shop where you could take things like the toaster for repair? Can you even imagine doing so today? And of course there were cobblers. I loved the cobblers. You didn’t just throw away your shoes when you got a hole in the heel – you had them repaired! These days it just costs more to have something repaired than the thing is worth… BECAUSE they are made to be cheap and disposable. We, as consumers, are programmed to prefer the low price points and assume we’re getting better value and stretching our dollar. But once you bought something ONCE in your life, not every three years or less. Count up the amount of times you had to fork out for a toaster, total up the cost. Bet you one in good materials guaranteed to last would have cost you less in the long run.

I won’t even go into the cost to the environment and landfill we are paying so that we can buy cheap disposable goods.

Anyone reading this I’m probably preaching to the choir – particularly to those who are proponents of HANDMADE excellence like all my Etsy friends, but I just want to add that I’m as guilty as everyone else. I’m trying to change my ways and buy good quality stuff that will last and last, even if I have to start with the small ticket items and do without for other things. It’s not easy being green as beloved Kermit told us so many years ago (how psychic was that?).


kim* said...

yeah there is a show repair in the mall... he told me once to just throw the shoe away next time... its not worth it. lol

its true that cute boot was my fave but it wasnt very cool to walk around with it falling apart.

Andrea said...

It's so sad that we are such a throw-away culture. I can't tell you how many coffee makers we have had.

I still go to the cobbler - I have shoes I love to much to get rid of, but I can't find a pair of jeans that will last longer than 6 months.

Longfellow said...

There is a cobbler in Placerville that is pretty great and he does jeans and leather sewing as well as boots and shoes. My brother had his cowboy boots done there. It was a pretty penny but a lovely job. And a new pair of boots would have cost more.

High Desert Diva said...

Great post

Angela said...

We have a little shop called Shoe Renew. I haven't been there in years! Isn't it funny how passing a couple of old office chairs can trigger a whole train of thought like this? happens to me all the time!