Disposable society

18:52, Dec 03 2012

Chop it up and throw it away.

Those were the instructions from my frustrated mother who is about to buy her third suitcase in as many years.

Version number 2, a $200 plus job on wheels, failed to live through some rough treatment meted out by airport staff on its last trip overseas and she is forced to get a replacement.

Version number one - a little more expensive, suffered a similar fate after a relatively short period.

The interior plastic lining in one was shattered and the handles on both were torn from their mountings.

Poor old mum, like so many modern day consumers, was left out of pocket yet again.


Just like the time she:

1. Had to get a new kettle after just two years when internal corrosion started blemishing the water in its predecessor.

2. Replaced a washing machine when it completely shat itself after four years of service.

3. Bought a new electric frying pan after  the old one ( purchased 18 months prior) started to lose its protective coating - dispersing unhealthy flakes of Teflon through her evening meals.

4. Got herself a new TV when the six year-old model died in dramatic, smokey fashion.

All of the failed items were originally purchased to update appliances acquired as wedding gifts way back in 1969. Those presents came with credible guarantees in a time when manufacturers like Fisher & Paykel staked their reputations on product longevity. They even outlived the marriage.

The colour Pye TV, brought home to replace the old black and white in 1975, was perhaps the greatest example, soldiering on into the 80s, 90s and early 2000s - well exceeding all expectations.

How times have changed.

There's no money to be made in the manufacturing of goods built to last and the old much talked about  do-it-yourself/ number eight wire mentality is no more than a myth in today's throw away society - though I wonder if it was every anything else.

And there's not a lot anyone can do about it - or is there?

I took the offending suitcase out to the shed with a view to dismantle it for disposal via the weekly rubbish bag collection.

But a lingering thought stopped me making the first irreversible cut and prompted a change of tack.

I emerged two hours later with a  perfectly serviceable product - albeit a little different to what it used to be - but good to go for another few years.

And in that moment I chalked up a minor victory for the consumer.

It was a moment to be savoured but an act I will be unable to replicate in many instances when the complex and potentially life threatening world of electrics is involved.

Because at the end of the day there is no escaping consumerism - not unless you go bush... though at least, if I ever do decide to do that, I'll have something to carry my clothes in.

(Live Matches)