Nothing lasts forever, especially our stuff
The Future. If you’ve recently bought clothing that’s fallen apart after a few washes, or a keyboard that’s gotten stuck after little use, then you’re probably aware that the “stuff” made today isn’t as high-quality as it was a decade ago. As the rate of production increases, and the ability to repair what we already own diminishes, we’ve been conditioned to buy newer — not necessarily upgraded — things. If brands can return to producing well-made, timeless goods, there might be less demand for new stuff and higher sustainability overall.
Newer, lesser, faster, weaker
There are several reasons our things have a shorter lifespan now than ever before, reports Vox.
- The climate crisis, pandemic, and skyrocketing inflation have increased the cost of labor and materials. In other words, if consumers want to pay the same price for a more expensive product, they’ll have to sacrifice quality in exchange.
- The pressure to make more lowers the quality of what’s being made since the development and testing of a product is accelerated.
- The speed at which brands are expected to produce is faster due to consumer demand for same-day or two-day delivery and the hunger for real-time microtrends.
- Designing in a way that reduces labor is cheaper, which can mean using as few parts as possible and of lesser quality — like plastic and glue instead of metal and screws.
The nuts and bolts
While our stuff isn’t intended to break, our mindsets are geared toward finding the better object. But “better” doesn’t always mean durable when companies are incentivized to produce faster and cheaper.
As long as we have an appetite for more, brands will churn out more. Sigh. But whether we give up our current spending habits, only time will tell.