I recently heard Sen. Cory Booker on MSNBC talking about New Year’s Resolutions. One of the things he mentioned was not getting caught up in Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is defined as inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass market retailers in response to the latest trends. I see it much differently. I don’t mean just clothing wise even though I have written in the past about purchasing and wearing items with staying power. I mean this constant movement of products through our society by constantly modifiying existing items and planned obsolescence.
How many of you remember when a road bike was called a ten speed? That meant that the bike had 2 chainrings up front and five chainrings in the back. We now have mid to high end bikes ($2000 and up) with 12 speeds which means really 24 because there are 12 speeds in the back and 2 front chainrings. I ride an 11 speed and I have no plans to upgrade my road bike but there is always someone who wants to ride “what the pro’s ride” that will spend the $1000-3000 to upgrade their current bike or buy a whole new one.
The same thing happens with surfboards. My favorite board from my board maker was called the Flyer, which came out in 1999 and was a top seller because it was easy to ride yet also performed well. I had 3 or 4 of these between 1999 and 2010 when they stopped making them stock. Surfboards are a wear item that wears out after prolonged use and I turn my boards over every 5-7 years. Last year I started surfing a lot more after a hiatus due to politics and such and I wasn’t really excited about the boards I had. Then I noticed they were making the Flyer again. Bam, I traded in the old boards and ordered a new Flyer. It is as magic as I remember. The lesson here for the manufacturer is there are a lot of us who don’t need the “improvements and refinements”.
I am sure a lot of you have had the experience where you really liked something and then they stopped making it. At the same time, we are constantly being subjected to advertising on a constant basis urging us that we can’t live without this or that. Facebook now allows you to see who has given them your online browsing data so they can target you. Instagram and even Twitter are similar. I suspect that at some point, you can sign up for free toilet paper as long as they can print ads on it (ok, I have patented that idea so don’t steal it).
Thankfully there is a solution that will not only save the planet (landfills are full of perfectly good discarded stuff and manufacturing is hard on the water supply as well as the atmosphere) but is better for your pocketbook. Stop buying stuff just for an incremental improvement. If your iPhone works, keep it or just buy the new battery and not a whole phone. Buy things when the other stuff wears out, its ok, I won’t judge. When you do purchase things, spend a little more on something that is made well and will last. Take care of what you do buy. I keep my surfboards in board bags so they don’t get banged up in my garage and I don’t leave them in the sun which causes the glass and foam to degrade. I have my bikes regularly tuned and replace the chain ($30.00) before it wears down the front or rear cogs ($200-500). I buy good shoes that will last not inexpensive “stylish” ones that will fall apart and look ridiculous in a year. Buy a real coffee maker instead of a Keurig. My parents had an old Mr. Coffee that worked for probably 25 years. Get a good phone case and a screen protector. I once passed on to my Stepdaughter my IPhone 5 that I had for probably 3-4 years that was in immaculate physical condition and she broke it within a week, she didn’t like my phone case.
We used to live in a society where people passed on personal possessions to their children like watches, china, furniture, jewelry and even some clothing. I think we should get back to that.