Friday, September 5, 2014

Fending off disposeability

I recently fixed Julie's dehydrator and thought of how many people must have things break down on them that they simply throw away. Some things are big and expensive enough it's worthwhile economically to hire someone to fix them, but by and large I would guess most products that break get thrown away. Fixing these products would take a few circumstances aligning—understanding how the product works, knowing how to troubleshoot the problem, and being able to find a replacement part for the part that went bad. Many, probably most, products made these days were never intended to be fixed; yet another great characteristic of our short-sighted capitalist system is to ensure customers are always in need and coming back for more.

The fried dehydrator thermostat
I have to say the situation's gotten really bad.  And it seems that every year things gets worse and worse with the planned obsolescence.  Products these days don't last nearly as long as those made even ten years ago. If you read product reviews in trying to make a purchase, everyone says, “the last one I had lasted 15 years, and this one lasted a few months.” That most products are made in China isn't helping. As more companies move their production overseas it becomes more difficult to find anything of good quality. Outsourcing production saves on labor costs and reduces costs related to workplace safety and environmental regulations etc. The increased profit margin must make these companies foam at the mouth for even more profit. While they're at it they figure, "Why not take the opportunity to cut costs by reducing quality?".