Disposable culture

I am guilty of this. I replace my phone before it breaks and I have a whole wardrobe of clothes that I don’t wear.

People used to own only one pair of jeans or drive the same car for years. They would go to a shop for repairing should there be any problems. During the industrial revolution, there was a technology boom and products got into the mass market; consequently, business models have changed. Nowadays, many products have planned obsolescence, meaning things were made to fail so that customers would have a constant need to replace or ‘upgrade’ their current products, even before they were broken. Very often, it is more expensive to repair than to replace your favourite pair of glasses.

I’m not going to get into the issues regarding the environment, waste management, cheap labour, and all that. But I’m going to talk about the attitude of consumerism that has trickled down and changed our attitude towards important but intangible things such as the way we handle relationships. Unlike materialistic goods, we didn’t commit to relationships betting it to fail in the first place. Nonetheless, divorce rates have increased and many opt for staying unmarried as people are less willing to tease out problems and conquer challenges together. 

Of course there are more than just one factor resulting in the phenomenon; urbanisation, change in gender roles, etc. all play a part. However, we can see elements of consumerism in relationships, the way we work in our jobs, or even perception on the way we look.

The picture below is a lamp that was first switched on 115 years ago and is still shining in a fire station in California. Perhaps a great first step is to be able to see and treat things with more respect and love. 

The Centennial Light has shone for 115 years (Credit: Bill Nale/Wikipedia)


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