Yesterday I wrote about our frying pans. I am thinking about the things we have today that have been with us for a long time.
I have behind me a pile of dead electronics. A printer, computer, monitor, iPods, headphones, wires, keyboards, mice, phones. None of these is more than five or so years old. In my basement, there’s another pile of old devices (stereo receivers, another printer, etc.). The list would be bigger if we didn’t do our best to pass along the stuff that is still serviceable.
We have been replacing pottery with new sets from Pottery Barn as needed — we’re pretty careful, but it’s all chipped on the edges, and many pieces broke. We got some wine glasses from Crate and Barrel and others from there, too. The wine glasses are etched (from the acid in the wine). our set of glasses is the remains of several attempts to restock. Yet the porcelain pottery we got when we were married have not a single chip, and we use it frequently.
I have several wool suits I bought shortly after I graduated from college. I have some cotton shirts that I inherited from my father. But the shirts I buy now seem to last only a year before they are stained, faded, or in tatters.
None of the furniture that is made of particle board or MDF has lasted. Reasonable quality desks had thin finishes which have worn off leaving many stains from pens, water and scratches. High quality cherry furniture from Green Design has only become more beautiful with age.
Our town saved money on a high school building built around 1970. It was poorly designed and has had ventilation problems, mold, poor lighting and lasted only 38 years. It is being replaced now with a carefully designed and very expensive replacement.
I have a travel mug for my coffee that I have had for at least 10 years. The cheap plastic ones have fallen apart from being washed in the dishwasher.
We saved money buying “good” quality cabinets for our kitchen. The finish is coming off and the hardware is poor.
So the question is, what is more expensive? The very expensive things we bought, made of high-quality, natural materials, or things having thoughtful design? Perhaps the premium for these things is twice what you might pay for a similar product made of lower quality materials. And all the cheap stuff needed to be made, transported, packaged, then disposed of.
Quality is usually an environmentally responsible choice, as well as being less expensive in the long run.