We live in a throw-away culture. Fast fashion permeates our thinking. New colors come into style and, before you know it, that color is old news. When something breaks, we often immediately think to throw it. Then again, products aren’t even produced to last long anymore.
Creative destruction is an economic term, coined by Joseph Schumpter, that refers to “the capitalist process of generating new growth by businesses through the destruction of old products, processes, and markets and the creation of new ones.” You may have heard of Planned Obsolescence, which is another term referring to the same thing. In other words, as soon as something new is created, it is already in the process of becoming old and will be replaced by something “newer and better.”
That brand new iPhone you just bought? Everyone is already talking about the next phone.
Our voracious need for more and newer items is indeed destructive to our minds and our children’s minds by teaching them to be perpetually discontent. We can relearn contentment and simplicity.
We can choose to start buying timeless, well-made items that will last for generations. We can then either pass them on to family members or pass them on to someone else, helping to save planetary resources in the meantime. For ourselves, our children, and the planet, let’s think long and hard about what we buy.
Lesson 1: Buy Less and Buy Better
Minimalism has fascinated me for about five years. When many people think of minimalism, they think of cold, nearly empty, white rooms. In reality, the concept simply means to get rid of any excess or unwanted things in your life and to only allow items into your home that are truly useful or beautiful.
In the process, you may end up curbing your spending, saving money, living in a cleaner, simpler home, and really appreciating what you have.
Another benefit to buying less is the option to buy better quality. It is almost always best to buy something better quality. It will bring more enjoyment and will have a far longer life span. Often, you “get what you pay for” when you buy new. I have a purse I purchased about five years ago. I had saved up and bought it for several hundred dollars, but it is very high quality and still looks brand new. I expect it to last many years, it is timeless and I continue to get compliments on it all the time. I easily could have spent the same amount of money on buying multiple purses by now, having created far more waste in the process. Many purses are made of inferior materials that are not built to last.
Buying better quality products that last helps prevent landfill overload. Heirloom quality products are extremely sturdy, can generally be fixed, and then can be repurposed or recycled. When looking for anything to buy, avoid the plastic junk!
- Toys – Look online for Montessori or Waldorf-inspired materials. They are often made out of wood and are well made.
- Metal and wooden spoons and spatulas instead of plastic.
- Cast iron skillets make amazing heirlooms. They get better with age.
- Instead of a closet filled with fast fashion, look for companies with well-made, timeless pieces.
- Buy items with less parts to break. Even sturdy couches without pull-out foot stools are far less likely to break.
- Become a quality connoisseur, but buy second-hand whenever you can.
- See what cool heirlooms your family might already have to pass down.