Wednesday, 16 July 2014

To Consume or not to Consume - That is the Question

The other day, whilst standing at the ironing board, trying to catch up with the mound of ironing that built up last week whilst I'd been gallivanting about, I watched a programme I'd recorded at the weekend.  It was called 'The Men Who Made Us Shop' and was a programme about the men who introduced the notion of built in obsolescence into domestic and other manufactured goods and those who found and continue to find new ways to encourage us to buy more than we actually need.  It was a great programme that I'd recommend anyone to watch, if you can catch it on iPlayer.   Absolutely fascinating.

Apparently, according to this programme, manufacturers do and have since the 1950's actually built obsolescence into their products, as we all knew, in order to maximise their profits.  A manuscript of a contract made between certain manufacturers at this time to do this, was actually found, and documented the exact details of this plan including the fines imposed on those that didn't stick to the rules. 

The programme went on to investigate this phenomena and it's ramifications for western societies, as well as look at how such practices have changed over the decades that have passed since.  Call me na├»ve, but this was jaw dropping, eye opening stuff.  I was particularly shocked, in respect of the case of printer cartridges, which are often programmed to tell you they are empty after a certain amount of printed pages, when they could in fact still print over 3 times as many pages.  Such waste seems completely immoral.  I must admit that we always ignore the printer when it tells us the cartridge is empty and just carry on using it until it physically isn't doing a good enough job and then it gets changed.

Anyway, after watching it, it did make me think, my goodness do I really need to aspire to buying the contents of John Lewis Home department, which is inevitably what happens when I go into the store, when I've got a perfectly lovely, well functioning home already.  The answer was simple, a resounding no.

Why then, when I popped out the other day did I find myself buying things I never intended to?  I must be an ad man's dream.  The purchases in question were from M&S.  I just happended to go in and catch the tail end of the July sales and a very nice pair of beige linen trousers and a smart black top in my size, were just crying out to be bought. After paying for them (on my credit card I'm afraid), I was then handed a voucher for 20% off hoisery.  The till must have known that I would then go and buy some black lycra tights for the winter (M&S being one of the best places to buy these) to get the benefit of said discount.  In all honesty, it was in my mind to buy some more black tights this autumn, as I've thrown a couple of pairs away this year, so I guess it doesn't make much difference when I buy them. 

With regard to the earlier two purchases, I console myself with the (probably mistaken) belief that I am building a better quality wardrobe at sales prices, as both were classic pieces that should last and last.  Unless, of course, the fickle finger of fashion points me in another direction!

5 comments:

  1. I remember a designer telling me he had to make sure washing machines had a limited life expectancy... they used to last forty years or so !

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    1. BadPenny yes this is correct - my husband has been involved as an engineer with the White Goods Industry - fortunately he kept our washer going for years as he could machine the various components.

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    2. It's scary isn't it. We think we're lucky these days because electrical goods are quite cheap in comparison to the past, but when we have to buy things several times over they no longer seem such good value.

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  2. I am without a car at the moment and as Jon has a business I can not ask him to take me anywhere - without it being imperative. (last night he took me to Asda for wine lol) I am concentrating on my garden projects - so instead of jumping in my car and tootling off for plants, I am making do with the resources lying around in the garden and planning via googling etc some small projects. Loving it!

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    1. It's really satisfying isn't it to be resourceful and make do with what you have instead of rushing out and buying more. I love shopping but the thrill soons wears off when the money runs out or the credit card bill lands on the mat.

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