Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

monsoon

Another Case against the Disposable Society

29 posts in this topic

This article is an excellent read on a company that decided that being a supplier to Walmart was just too costly to his company and would eventually put him out of business. Simplicity, which makes Snapper mowers here in the USA, builds high quality mowers that are usually several times the cost of cheap mowers that break down in a year or too. It's a long article, but I hope we see companies doing more of the same thing.

It's getting more difficult to find well built items that are designed to last for years and even generations. Instead the market which is being driven down by places like Walmart is headed towards the disposible route. In the case above Walmart wants to sell a mower that is so cheap that when it invariably breaks down it is cheaper to dispose of it rather than get it fixed. Unfortunately there is a long term cost of this to society.

  • Disposable items end up in our city's over stressed landfills

  • Scarce resources are wasted. Often a great deal of petroleum is used in the manufacturing of these items.

  • There is a huge amount of energy expended in the life cycle of these items. Energy to manufacture, energy to move the raw materials, energy to distribute and sell, and energy to dispose. All of it adding to greenhouse emissions.

  • It's bad for the American worker. Disposible items are the domain of cheap 3rd world labor.

It's great to see a company like Simplicity make a move such as this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Simplicity make a move such as this.

With WalMart quickly approaching a 30-35% distribution level on almost everything sold in this country (and this is a corporate goal of theirs), it's refreshing to see a company stand up to the retailing giant and realize they can serve themselves and the consumer better.

It is a shame that so much resource can be used even in the construction of a "cheap" lawn mower just to be thrown out in a couple of years. But, these cheap mowers are pretty much throw away. My boss gave me his cheap off brand mower (shows how much he paid) after I moved to my new house and my old trusty (actually ancient) Craftsman mower died. It lasted ONE season!! I did take it to the lawnmower repair shop and the guy just laughed at me. He told me those models were good for 1-3 seasons tops and I just needed to throw it away. What happened to the days where you could get at least 10-20 years service out of stuff??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People just don't look at the longterm anymore and want a quick fix on the cheap, even when the products that are of higher quality are often cheaper over their lifetime. That ideology goes into other things like retirement and debt which are beyond the scope of this discussion.

Personally I try to buy things that last for a longtime, and I try not to buy random trendy objects that will either just take up space in a year or go to landfill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really hate that disposible stuff. I'm not much of a treehugger type (far from it in fact) but have a distinct appreciation for quality, and almost everything made today...doesn't have it. This is why I prefer classic cars, classic music, vintage furniture, etc. People used to take far more pride in designing and manufacturing things than people do now. I can't stress enough how much that annoys me. Man, I was born 50 years too late...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i used to mow my mom's lawn with a simplicity lawn tractor from the 60's... my father had rebuilt the engine at one point, but that was about it... the transmission died in the mid-90's. the tractor was my grandfather's. they certainly don't build them like that anymore, but it was a nice example of not using a cheap disposable lawn mower. i loved that tractor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic reminds me of the exercise bike I bought for $120 at Walmart. The magnet resistance broke after 2 months and the only way I could fix it was to ship it out to California to get new parts (which would have cost about $60 to ship). So of course I just threw it out. Now I refuse to buy anything that's inexpensive from that store (or even go in there for that matter), cause inexpensive at Walmart means it's a total piece of sh!t. Same thing for anything cheap at Sports Authority or Dick's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My parent's always told me not to buy the cheapest product you can find because it will usually let you down in a matter of no time. They said, if you spend a little extra and buy a quality product from a reputable manufacturer you will more than get your money back from it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My parent's always told me not to buy the cheapest product you can find because it will usually let you down in a matter of no time. They said, if you spend a little extra and buy a quality product from a reputable manufacturer you will more than get your money back from it.

that's good advice for almost anything.

one thing that really pisses me off is people who think of computers as disposable and buy the cheapest POS dell they can just because it's not worth spending money on a more expensive computer when "it's got the same specs". i go through this all the time with incoming freshmen (i do user support in a college). their parents all beotch that the computers our vendor offers (HP's business line, core duo's, etc... basically the same hardware as the macbook pro line for a few hundred less) are so expensive. what i always tell them is that the cheap dell (which is what they always say they can get for cheaper) won't last nearly as long, that it's cheap for a reason... cheap hardware that's not made to last. of course i work in a school populated by mostly upper middle class students whose parents think that if something goes wrong with the comptuer, buy a new one and throw the old one out in the regular trash!! spend some extra money on a computer and buy a good one that's gonna last (like the business line our vendor sells... might not have the prettiest case, but it'll last a lot longer than the average laptop).

whenever i buy something, i always do my research to find out what i can get for the least amount of money that will last me the longest amount of time. you have to find that proper balance. some things that last a lot longer than others just aren't worth what they cost. and some things that are really expensive have a lot of frills but don't last that long. the most expensive isn't always the best, but the cheapest is almost never the best...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I want a metal dustpan. I've probably had a dozen or more dustpans since I've lived on my own, they're all made of cheap plastic and eventually shatter at some point when dropped. My mother has the same metal dustpan that she had when I was born. You should only have to buy a dustpan once in the average lifetime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a metal dustpan. I've probably had a dozen or more dustpans since I've lived on my own, they're all made of cheap plastic and eventually shatter at some point when dropped. My mother has the same metal dustpan that she had when I was born. You should only have to buy a dustpan once in the average lifetime.

look for some industrial supply place. the only metal dustpans i ever see anymore are at restaurants, in schools, and places of business that the maintenance people and janitors use.

my mom had a funky looking one that had a rubber lip to make it easier to sweep things into it. the lip dry rotted off... and the dustpan has since been retired (or maybe lost in the basement somewhere).

they do make good plastic ones though...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want a metal dustpan. I've probably had a dozen or more dustpans since I've lived on my own, they're all made of cheap plastic and eventually shatter at some point when dropped. My mother has the same metal dustpan that she had when I was born. You should only have to buy a dustpan once in the average lifetime.

The company I work for still sells offer those metal dustpans to customers who want to sell them.. they are much better than the cheap plastic ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never thought you'd buy a lawn mower from Wal-Mart. We buy ours from the John Deere dealer in town :)

Certain things should not be bought at Wal-Mart, including:

Electronics (unless you're going brand name)

Shoes

Lawn equipment

Paint

Things that will need to last a while. I mean, sure, buy shampoo and your bag of chips.. but leave the TV to a store that can offer you a gaurantee on it... and a smile and a pat on the back when they help you load it into your car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never thought you'd buy a lawn mower from Wal-Mart. We buy ours from the John Deere dealer in town :)

Certain things should not be bought at Wal-Mart, including:

Electronics (unless you're going brand name)

Shoes

Lawn equipment

Paint

Things that will need to last a while. I mean, sure, buy shampoo and your bag of chips.. but leave the TV to a store that can offer you a gaurantee on it... and a smile and a pat on the back when they help you load it into your car.

Any of that stuff, pretty much with the exception of shoes, can be bought at Wal-Mart and still be good... you just have to pay more for the brand name. Wal-Mart sells cheap lawn equipment as well as good lawn equipment, and they carry Benjamin Moore paints which is one of the industry leaders.

The only items I recommend not bothering with at Wal-Mart are clothing items in general, because for most other items they carry brand names as well as off-brands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's getting more difficult to find well built items that are designed to last for years and even generations. Instead the market which is being driven down by places like Walmart is headed towards the disposible route. In the case above Walmart wants to sell a mower that is so cheap that when it invariably breaks down it is cheaper to dispose of it rather than get it fixed. Unfortunately there is a long term cost of this to society.
  • Disposable items end up in our city's over stressed landfills

  • Scarce resources are wasted. Often a great deal of petroleum is used in the manufacturing of these items.

  • There is a huge amount of energy expended in the life cycle of these items. Energy to manufacture, energy to move the raw materials, energy to distribute and sell, and energy to dispose. All of it adding to greenhouse emissions.

  • It's bad for the American worker. Disposible items are the domain of cheap 3rd world labor.

It's great to see a company like Simplicity make a move such as this.

You do make a good case, and I don't necessarily disagree with your post. However, I get the impression that the market trend is in the opposite direction (granted, I'm no economic expert). Isn't that the whole point of Wal-Mart attempting to get into some higher-end markets by selling higher-priced, higher-quality products?

I know if I want a good quality product (for example, right now I'm looking to replace my bedroom floor fan-- I'm certainly not going to buy a cheap plastic piece of junk), I'm not going to even bother looking at a place like Wal-Mart if I think they don't offer something worth looking at. Rather, I'll go to a speciality store, or more oft than not I'll make a purchase on the Internet from a company or direct.

I also get the impression that I'm not alone in my generation (Y) with this view. However, I'm not a 'no-shoes no-shirt' kind of guy, so I can't speak for them. A low-income family living day-to-day may not care about a product's life-span. However, with the complete ease of use of Internet buying, especially with the avoidance of paying sales tax (in most cases) on purchased items, if someone wants a high-quality product and can't find it at his/her friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart, he/she can get it on the Internet easy. The market would work itself out (maybe not now, but as the collective buying power of Gen Y increases, then perhaps).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so this takes this topic in a slightly different direction along the same theme... i have been thinking recently of how "they sure don't make stuff like they used to" here in boston. callahan tunnel? sumner? both still totally fine, not leaking, not collapsing... they're decades old. anyone checking the news recently knows this is not the case for certain *newer* tunnels here.

however, isn't it a rule that public construction projects have to go with the lowest bid? does that propel us further into the problem of "cheap" but "disposable"? i'm not sure i feel comfortable having my public construction be cheap but not high quality work... but then again, i wouldn't want to structure the public bidding process in such a way that wastes taxpayer money...

thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


so this takes this topic in a slightly different direction along the same theme... i have been thinking recently of how "they sure don't make stuff like they used to" here in boston. callahan tunnel? sumner? both still totally fine, not leaking, not collapsing... they're decades old. anyone checking the news recently knows this is not the case for certain *newer* tunnels here.

however, isn't it a rule that public construction projects have to go with the lowest bid? does that propel us further into the problem of "cheap" but "disposable"? i'm not sure i feel comfortable having my public construction be cheap but not high quality work... but then again, i wouldn't want to structure the public bidding process in such a way that wastes taxpayer money...

thoughts?

you should read the whole thread specifically about these issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any of that stuff, pretty much with the exception of shoes, can be bought at Wal-Mart and still be good... you just have to pay more for the brand name. Wal-Mart sells cheap lawn equipment as well as good lawn equipment, and they carry Benjamin Moore paints which is one of the industry leaders.

The only items I recommend not bothering with at Wal-Mart are clothing items in general, because for most other items they carry brand names as well as off-brands.

OK, so they carry name brand equipment. What do you do when it breaks? Is there a repair department at WalMart that can help you? No, you either have to ship the product off or convince their customer service for a replacement or refund. At least if you go to a major electronic/appliance/lawn product store, they have repair people on staff to help you. I would say any big ticket item needs to be purchased elsewhere, along with clothing and shoes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you should read the whole thread specifically about these issues.

oh dear - i dont' think i can :( if it's in the coffee house... i'm only at twenty something posts... well... i'll get there eventually :) - if there's already a discussion about that elsewhere no need to rehash it here i guess!

thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh dear - i dont' think i can :( if it's in the coffee house... i'm only at twenty something posts... well... i'll get there eventually :) - if there's already a discussion about that elsewhere no need to rehash it here i guess!

thanks

forgot about that rule... i'm sure there's one in the boston section somewhere...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there may be some truth to the statement that "things just aren't made like they used to be," I think there may be some romanticizing going on here.

Even the cheapest cars made today are more reliable than cars made twenty years ago.

With that being said, you have to hand it to a company who decides that enough is enough and play hard ball with Wal-Mart. My hope is that they can find another suitable vendor.

Ultimately, it will be up to consumers to do the research to make sure the products they purchase are of a certain quality. And if Wal-Mart isn't able to carry those products, it's their loss. Fortunately, via the outlets like Consumer Reports and sources on the internet, this kind of research is not difficult to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there may be some truth to the statement that "things just aren't made like they used to be," I think there may be some romanticizing going on here.

Even the cheapest cars made today are more reliable than cars made twenty years ago.

With that being said, you have to hand it to a company who decides that enough is enough and play hard ball with Wal-Mart. My hope is that they can find another suitable vendor.

Ultimately, it will be up to consumers to do the research to make sure the products they purchase are of a certain quality. And if Wal-Mart isn't able to carry those products, it's their loss. Fortunately, via the outlets like Consumer Reports and sources on the internet, this kind of research is not difficult to do.

the 70's and 80's weren't very good times for cars, aside from the late 80's when toyotas and hondas were built like tanks (i had an 89 camry wagon that would've lasted forever had someone not rear ended me and totalled it). but previous to that, american cars were built really well.

today, we're seeing japanese cars with the best reliability (which has generally been the way things have been going since the 80's, mainly because american companies can't afford the union demands).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the 70's and 80's weren't very good times for cars, aside from the late 80's when toyotas and hondas were built like tanks (i had an 89 camry wagon that would've lasted forever had someone not rear ended me and totalled it). but previous to that, american cars were built really well.

today, we're seeing japanese cars with the best reliability (which has generally been the way things have been going since the 80's, mainly because american companies can't afford the union demands).

also the fuel econony of cars these days could be so much better...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even the cheapest cars made today are more reliable than cars made twenty years ago.

I beg to differ. My '68 Mustang was bar none the most reliable car I have ever owned, and my Dad's '73 Mach 1 was among the most reliable I have ever seen too. Both beat the '00 Focus I started out with, or the '96 Caravans we had for a while, or the '04 Toyota Sienna, or the '00 VW New Beetle. We'd both still have these Mustangs if we hadn't moved, too. Not only that but they were FAR easier to service, as well. You could do it yourself with a set of tools in the trunk; now you have to almost be a computer whiz to do it and the safety and smog nazis have you running scared if you don't take it to an authorized mechanic. My Dad has also commented on how he seems to remember most of the cars from his formitive days seeming to be just as reliable if not more so than the ones now. The only reliable modern car we've had was an '00 Passat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I beg to differ. My '68 Mustang was bar none the most reliable car I have ever owned, and my Dad's '73 Mach 1 was among the most reliable I have ever seen too. Both beat the '00 Focus I started out with, or the '96 Caravans we had for a while, or the '04 Toyota Sienna, or the '00 VW New Beetle. We'd both still have these Mustangs if we hadn't moved, too. Not only that but they were FAR easier to service, as well. You could do it yourself with a set of tools in the trunk; now you have to almost be a computer whiz to do it and the safety and smog nazis have you running scared if you don't take it to an authorized mechanic. My Dad has also commented on how he seems to remember most of the cars from his formitive days seeming to be just as reliable if not more so than the ones now. The only reliable modern car we've had was an '00 Passat.

the newer VW's aren't all too reliable, neither are american cars. had you purchased camrys or corollas or accords or civics, you would've seen some of the most reliable vehicles ever made.

the reason it seems that vehicles from the 60's were so reliable is that they were so easy to repair because they lacked much electrical and computerized stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Statistically vehicles from the 60s are not more reliable. And don't forget these vehicles needed a lot more maintenance than a modern car. You had to change the oil every 3K miles, you had to adjust points, the carburator, valves more often, they had multiple belts, and they simply could not be used as cars like people use them now. They also wasted more gas and polluted a lot more.

I learned to drive in a 65 Beetle, and yes you could easily work on it but that was good because it require a lot of maintenance every 3500 miles. I drive a 01 Mercedes now and it only requires an oil change every 13K miles and routine maintenance every 26K miles. It drives much faster than the beetle, gets better gas mileage, and pollutes less. I much prefer the computerization that makes this possible, and my independent mechanic down the street has no problem working on the vehicle when I need it. I only go the the dealer for warranty work.

In regards to the earlier comment on the smog nazi's we should all be very happy that air pollution controls were put on vehicles. People in certain cities were choking on smog in the 60s and though there are a lot more cars on the road now, the air is cleaner in these places now due to air pollution controls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.