There’s been a huge shift in the last couple decades toward replacing things when their optimum function disappears, rather than fixing or upgrading existing stuff. Can’t play a new game on your computer? Forget getting a better graphics card, just buy a new computer. Camera not taking just the right shot? Why get a new lens, there are whole new cameras on the market. Digital media device running out of space? Don’t prune your library – buy a bigger pod!
This behaviour has put a lot of strain on people who no longer take advantage of more economical options, and companies who have had to change the ways their warrantees work to cut the per-unit cost of coverage, and as a result, warrantees aren’t as customer-friendly as they once were, which makes it even harder to consider repairing something we own, even if it’s relatively new. Six to eight weeks without our toys – especially critical ones such as a personal computer or a cell phone (for which most of us get charged monthly fees, whether we’re using the thing or not, but that’s a rant for later) can really ruin our routines.
So we buy new, and toss the old stuff. What a waste!
Earlier this week, I had a customer at my store who brought in what had to be a thousand dollars worth of camera lenses for SLR (synonymous with “high-end” and “pricey” for the rest of us) cameras. Apparently, he had found them after a period of neglect, cleaned them up, and wanted to test to see if they worked with current DSLR cameras. And guess what! They do! It’s a standard connection, in most cases, that hasn’t changed for years, which means instead of buying a whole new set of lenses, or settling for a lesser camera, he can use his old stuff with new purpose. How brilliant is that?
At the risk of turning this into an environmental rant instead of a treatise on patience, I need to mention that we’re in danger of ruining our planet because we are, in part, too impatient to consider fixing the old. At the end of the day there are only so many things we can make out of the materials we have on-planet, which means if we don’t find ways of recycling or repurposing our disused toys/cars/computers and so on, eventually we’re just going to run out of gold and petrolium and so on. We, the people who buy, need to step up to the plate and demand warrantees that work better, recycling programs that include electronic waste (So it can be pulled apart and recycled, not so that it can be sent to Asia and burned. Seriously, where’s the disconnect there?) and any number of other ways of ensuring that, even if we can’t convince ourselves to use what we have until there’s a real need to replace it, that it at least goes back into the stream of production somehow, rather than sitting in a pile until the sun explodes.
We need to weigh in. Change our habits. Make a ripple here. Because if we don’t, we’re just going to run out of toys. No one wants that.