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Lessons from a 35-Year Old Hairdryer…

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old timey hair dryer circa 1980

During our recent visit with family in MA, I discovered this hairdryer in the guesthouse bathroom. I estimated that it’s between 35 and 40 years old (a quick search on eBay confirmed it was made sometime around 1980) and guess what… it dried my hair like a boss! Still working perfectly and doing its job after all these years.

My first thought was Ya know, they don’t make things like they used to! Yikes, I sound like my grandparents. But this got me thinking about something I’d read about a while back called planned obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence is basically intentionally designing a product to break or become outdated within a certain period of time. This practice is commonly used by companies that make cars, cell phones, appliances, and many, many other things.

The rationale behind the approach is to shorten the amount of time between purchases of the same product, thereby generating more sales and money for the company.

But of course, what does this practice also generate more of? Waste in landfills. And it wastes consumers’ money.

So what’s to be done? Well, I’m trying to buy higher-quality, better made stuff that will last longer, as opposed to cheap junk that is designed to break within a few years.

cup of coffee

But sometimes our budget just won’t allow me to buy a new high-quality item. For example, our coffee maker broke last month. I found some cheap replacement coffee makers on Amazon that started around $20. But I knew they were made poorly and wouldn’t last (most of the reviewers said as much).

So instead, I visited our local Goodwill and found a barely used, higher-quality coffee maker for $4.99. So now we have a nice coffee maker that will hopefully last longer than a few years, and I can use that money on something else, such as putting it toward our travel budget.

So, whenever I can, I am opting to buy the best-made item I can afford, in the hopes that 35 years down the road it will still be functional and NOT in a landfill!

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