I’ve been told about this video about [the story of ‘stuff’](http://www.storyofstuff.com/ “”) by a number of people over the last few days so it has obviously caught people’s attention. And after watching it I’ve suddenly become much more attuned to the idea that the things we buy might have been designed to fall apart and fail. Take for example the headphones for my mobile phone – I’m on about the fourth set in as many months because they have a pathetic design that makes the ear pieces fall apart within minutes of putting them into your bag….
Also shoes with high heels – within a week the rubbish soft plastic wears out and yet if you go to a cobbler and get them re-heeled it lasts for ages. And my digital radio alarm that just inexplicably stopped working after about a year. Then there’s my brother’s kids pram that fell apart the other day – a pram – falling apart! How can this happen? The answer, put forward compellingly towards the middle of this film, is a deliberate shift in economic policy in 50’s America towards boosting consumption to keep up with ever more efficient production and supply chains. Hence the deliberate policy to introduce designed and perceived obsolescence into every day objects that were once built to last. Perceived obsolescence is of course all about fashion which I feel less ire towards as you can more or less get round it by ignoring it as being stupid. But the designed to fail kind of obsolescence seems somehow more insidious – more of a con trick.
I’m glad to say sites like [freecycle](http://www.freecycle.org/ “”) seem to be bucking the keep consuming trend and I was recently told, by the newest member of our team, about a very new website dedicating to helping you [lend stuff](http://ukalpha.lendaround.com/about.html “”) to your mates (starting with DVDs) which also sounds like a good idea. But it’s not enough, maybe someone like the National Consumer Council can take this up and publish league tables of the worst offenders.
While I’m on this topic I vaguely remember seeing an advert recently featuring a stop animation tidal wave of stuff and thought wow this could have a cool message only to realise it was advertising one of those warehouse storage companies that have been cropping up to house all the rubbish we accummulate but don’t really need. Then I thought why not open an alternative where instead of locking your stuff up in little boxes you take it to the same sort of place but make it a collective borrowing place so you can get what you need when you need it – it just might not be your exact item. Just think of all the golf clubs, diving tanks, camping equipment, out of fashion garden furniture and cassette tape collections that could be brought into more productive use – well ok maybe not the cassette tapes.
And finally – if anyone would like to help work out if and how we can set up something for sandbag where we can rebrand old T-shirts and then offer them for sale then get in touch. Re-use is the new recycle!