And how to avoid it in your life

We are plagued with materialism and the replace culture. Unfortunatelly, what we have or don’t have can have an immense impact on our social status, friendships, and even our self-worth. Many people unconsciously let their stuff run their lives. 

I am not talking about survival. I am talking about excess. Wanting more than we need. When something breaks, immediately buying a new item. Replacing items that still work because a new model is available. 

When was the last time you repaired something or took it to a repair shop? Whatever happened to mending clothes or repairing electric appliances?

I know this topic is complex. We would need to talk about planned obsolescence, capitalism, fast everything (food, fashion), linear economy, sweatshops, marketing tactics to make you feel inadequate, etc. But let’s just explore how is the replace culture ruining us. Unfortunatelly, this is not an exhaustive list.

So much trash

The most apparent impact of all. Make it, use it, trash it. Rinse and repeat. We created an immense waste problem. We don’t even know how huge. Landfills are overfilled, and there are garbage patches in the oceans and the deserts. We dispatch trash to underdeveloped countries in Africa. All this trash is toxic and pollutes the environment in many ways.

Devaluation of stuff

If you can buy a shirt for 2 bucks, how much will you value it? You won’t think of mending it if it tears. It’s more work than buying a new one. The things that are easily replaceable lose our appreciation. And when we don’t appreciate them, we don’t take care of them, we don’t even think about them. It may have started with the cheap stuff, but we consider most of our things replaceable over time. 

Workers suffering from terrible working conditions

Who is paying the real cost of our cheap, replaceable stuff? Definitely not us! The person who made it is probably working in terrible conditions, for many hours for a wage that does not even buy them enough food. They are probably suffering some medical conditions because of the toxins they have to breathe or use. Our consumerism and demand for more put them in inhumane conditions. We use them for our gratification. 

Loss of crafts, skills, and jobs

When I was little, there was a repair shop for everything and anything: clothes, shoes, watches, appliances, kitchenware, the list goes on. People repaired at home whatever they could. My mom mended our clothes, and my dad fixed anything he knew how. 

Now, the reparation might cost more than buying a new item. We are less aware of how things work. Repair shops are scarce, repairers are losing business, and we are losing repairers. There might come a time, we will need those skills again, and we won’t have them.

How to participate less the replace culture?

Congrats on deciding you need to step back from this! I am so proud of you. 

In the beginning, it might take some getting used to. It won’t be perfect. Ever. The conditions will force you to replace even if you don’t want to.

  1. Avoid buying anything you don’t need. 
  2. If you need anything for a short time or use it a few times, borrow or rent it.
  3. When you need to buy stuff, always prefer quality over quantity. It will cost more now, but you will save money in the long run. Quality items will last longer, and you will be able to repair them if needed.
  4. Learn how to repair something. Pick your favorite: clothes, shoes, small appliances, phones, computers, and then help your friends and family with small reparations.
  5. Support companies that make quality products and do not support planned obsolescence. We, consumers, are only one part of the problem.
  6. When your stuff breaks, take it to a repair shop. They still exist, even though they are more invisible.
  7. See how far you can go with never replacing anything. Get creative, and use stuff in innovative ways.

Let me know what are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good!