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LostInParadise's avatar

Would you be willing to spend more for something that lasted longer?

Asked by LostInParadise (25330points) February 22nd, 2010

There is a high rate of turnover of consumer goods based on planned obsolescence. This takes two forms – functional, meaning that products are built not to last long, and fashion, meaning that newer and supposedly improved models are brought out.

In the long term we may be able to develop renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels, but in the short term we will not be able to sustain current rates of production. One suggestion is what has been called slow consumption, the production of goods built to last. There was a time when people held onto things like clothing and even passed it down from one generation to the next.

Do you think that people could do this again? Would you be willing to? One consideration would be economic impact. Manufacturing employment would decline, but since manufacturing is mostly done in China, this may have a beneficial impact on industrialized nations. Additionally, if goods came with warantees, there would be new domestic jobs for people to do repair work.

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20 Answers

janbb's avatar

@johnpowell Wanna dance?

Yes, I defintely would. I already contribute more to the utility company so that part of the fee funds renewable energy sources.

Cruiser's avatar

For the most part choices in quality merchandise already exist…most people just want to purchase something cheaply and pretty much get what they pay for is all. Good quality items often cost double for a similarly functioning item…cars, computers, appliances, watches, clothing, homes, art, musical instruments, even food. Pretty much everything is available in high quality versions again you will just have to pay for that quality.

jrpowell's avatar

I do. I used to wear Dickies a lot. Then about 10 years ago Wal*Mart started selling them and Sears stopped. The quality went to shit. Now I mostly wear Ben Davis and Carhartt. It cost a bit more but they last forever. The 17 dollar pair of Dickies only last a few months. It is simply cheaper to buy better quality goods.

And we pay a bit more for electricity from wind. But I know that they can’t route a specific source of power to our house. But I am fine paying a few extra bucks if that money is invested into renewable alternatives.

BoBo1946's avatar

Yes, as in the “long run,” it will pay off.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

We’ve always bought the best quality of anything that we could afford. @Cruiser is right. You get what you pay for. I’d rather spend a little more & have something last a good long time than buy something cheap & poorly made that you’re constantly buying over & over. It just makes sense.

CMaz's avatar

Yes and no.

trailsillustrated's avatar

all my stuff is used. really good quality stuff but used, my car, my watch. some of my clothes. my house. my furniture. they will all outlast me

john65pennington's avatar

Back in the year 2000, i needed a new car. Consumer Report magazine stated that a Toyota or Honda had the best overall track record for reliability and maintenance. i believed this report and bought a brand new Toyota Solara. i paid a little more for the best offered by Toyota for my new car. did i get my moneys worth? yes. i have 240,000 miles on my Solara and have replaced only the radiator, timing belt and battery. total cost…about $800 dollars for everything. i have no complaints whatsoever.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@john65pennington Wow! Now that’s money well spent. Good for you.

Cruiser's avatar

@john65pennington I had a Toyota 4 Runner and got up to 180,000 miles on it only replacing 3 clutches, few sets of tires and a fuel filter. Finally had to dump it after the floorboards rusted out.

candide's avatar

I have always done that and have never regretted it; it is well worth the extra money to purchase something that does not break down or wear out or just look old and shabby and half-way working after a while and needs replacing or tolerance to live with it!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

With many items you can buy a “commercial” or “industrial” equivalent, Like restaurant-quality equipment for the kitchen. You pay 4 or 5 times as much, but it lasts forever and is designed to be repaired. I drive a 48 year old car with 640,000 miles on her; designed for taxi use in Europe, everything is heavy-duty and repairable, 1.9l diesel gets 38 mpg.

lilikoi's avatar

I absolutely would. In fact, I do a lot of the time. I have bought “vintage” things (furniture, appliances, kitchen bric-a-brac, I’ll especially do vintage building materials if I can when I get a house) before because the quality (materials and craftsmanship) surpasses modern equivalents.

I used to borrow forks from the university cafeteria for extended periods of time (semester) to use in my dorm room. They were thin (you could bend them without much force) and stainless steel, but probably an impure stainless. Anyway, they would always begin to corrode after normal use after not too long so that I’d often have to make replacements within the semester. When I graduated, I got a nice mid-range stainless steel set of silverware from Macy’s. These too show surface corrosion on some of the pieces after only a handful of uses! This tells me the stainless steel used here was not great either. They are thicker in that you cannot readily bend them. But their thickness cannot compare to the few pieces of silverware my mom gave me (probably from the 1960s). These pieces are the thickest I’ve ever seen amongst modern silverware and show no corrosion after several decades.

I often will simply do without if I cannot find a product that meets my high standards for quality.

I think industrialization is what made planned obsolescence possible. Something truly dire would have to occur in order for things to revert, although I do believe it could happen but probably not in my lifetime. I think we have seen inflation in a sense where people’s expectations and standards have declined over time. I often wonder if the average person even notices that today we pay more for less.

lilikoi's avatar

@Cruiser My bf had a 1982 Honda Civic up to 200,000 miles; he still mourns the loss of it (head gasket blew, it was parked on the street for >24 hrs, deemed abandoned [what a ridiculous law], got impounded, and cost more than it was worth to get out, and on a college budget he let it go)

janbb's avatar

I had the impression that the question was not so much about whether higher quality products were available but of shifting the paradigm so that higher quality, longer lasting items are manufactured. I would like to get back to an economy where it is feasible to repair goods like televisions and stoves and not have it be so expensive or impossbile that it is imperative to buy new ones. Of coourse, with the rate at which new consumer goods are now designed and shoved at us; las year’s model is not acceptable any more even if repairable. Apparently, the average lifetime of a cellphone is 16 months!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Climate change and petroleum scarcity are going to force manufacturing back into areas that have “de-industrialized”. Prices will be much higher. In return for those higher prices, consumers must demand products that are durable and repairable. It will be great when “fashion” consists of having the oldest operable cell phone, television, car, etc.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t have to. Like so many other people who have answered, I already buy things that other people got new, and have outlasted their need, so now become mine. There are always frugal people who pay more for quality, and then re-sale when they want new.

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stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Agree with @xhero . Most of the systems in my house are industrial quality, kitchen gear meant for restaurant use, cars designed for taxi service. There is a huge difference in life expectancy and repairablity in products like these. Products made for “consumer” use are intended for a minimal service life, then thrown away and replaced. Commercial-duty products tend to have a much longer service-life design and can be repaired or rebuilt when a fault occurs.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Holy moly, I would, and have, spent more one something durable if I knew or thought spending more it would last longer and/or be of better quality. I did when I purchased by airbrushes and I was happy I did. If I had gone cheap it would have been more of a hassle than if I had spent the extra bucks.

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