You buy it at the lowest cost that you can find it. It breaks. You buy it again.
What is “it?” In our society, “it” is just about anything we consume. The modern world, particularly in developed and emerging countries, is a “throwaway society” — a place where disposability is a virtue and low prices have gained priority over permanence and environmental concerns.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You have a lot of good reasons to reject the throwaway society and to buy things for the long term — if not for life. Here are a few of those reasons.
Save our planet
The natural world faces a lot of threats because of human activity. Carbon emissions are driving up world temperatures, pollution is killing insects and many other forms of wildlife, destructive fishing techniques are killing staggering numbers of coral reefs and other marine life for each useful catch that reaches supermarkets. We can’t control everything that happens to our planet, but we can control our own actions — and when we participate in the throwaway society, we contribute to a trash buildup that’s hurting our planet.
When you buy a cheap product and then buy it again after it breaks, you throw the first one away. With landfills filling up and plastics falling from the sky, it has never been more important to consume less.
Save your money
When you buy something, it costs money. And even when the item itself is quite cheap, you may find that the costs add up. Eventually, it becomes clear that you should have paid a bit more in the first place for a product that would really last. That’s why so many frugal folks advise their peers to “buy it for life!”
Even pricey items can become a part of our throwaway culture. Take an iPhone, for instance: What would you do if you broke yours? For many people, the answer would be to buy a new one. It’s always nice to get an upgrade, but it’s important to remember that an iPhone 7 screen replacement costs a whole lot less than an iPhone 8. Maybe you can get another year out of your phone and delay getting a new one until you really need it.
Buying cheap items may be convenient and — in the short term, at least — affordable. But it’s not always a wise choice, especially when the product you’re buying is something important.
Take motorcycles, say experts who sell motorcycle accessories and parts. If you needed to replace a part or two and your mechanic quoted you two prices — one for cheap replacement parts and one for original equipment manufacturer Polaris parts — which would you choose? When your safety is on the line, there should be no question: You want a reliable bike with reliable brand-name parts in it. The same goes for your motorcycle helmet and gear, and for countless other things that you rely on in all areas of life.
Plenty of products can break without hurting you, but a surprising number of things could be dangerous. From cheap electronics with batteries that explode or burst into flames to cheap furniture that could snap and leave you, injured, on the floor, lots of little things can make your life safer when you buy reliable foods for the long term.
So reject our throwaway society, and buy things for the long term — or even for life, when possible. You’ll save money, get better and safer goods, and will help our planet to boot.