Since reading Less Is More by Jason Hickel I’ve become more and more aware of how too many products sold today are low-quality disposable items designed to be thrown away and discarded when they break, become technologically outdated or even just fall out of fashion.
The financial cost may be (relatively) low to replace these items, but the environmental and societal cost is huge — and the full cost has yet to be realised or paid (it will of course be paid eventually by the next generation).
It’s so refreshing when you come across repairable products — especially when the products are relatively low-cost. How often do we hear “it’ll be cheaper for you to just buy a new one than repair this” or “sorry we don’t carry any spare parts for that. We’ll need to look that up and order it in from overseas” or “this is an old model from three years ago and it’s no longer supported.”
I love that my entry-level Breville Coffee Machine is fully repairable. What’s more — you can order the parts online from the Breville website and orders over $50 ship free. Not only is the product designed to be repaired, they’ve also made the process straight forward and efficient. Breville doesn’t want me to buy a new machine every 2–3 years — they want me to look after the one I already have. This is good for my wallet and it’s good for the planet too. Is it in Breville’s short-term interests if its goal is to sell more machines and upgrade customers to the latest model? Maybe not. But if they’re playing the long game I’m sure it’ll work out…
I’ve noticed some smaller companies doing this too. One of my lockdown projects was growing a herb garden. I bought a Vege Pod from the local NZ supplier with a great Shopify website. I was impressed to see they also have a full range of spare parts available for everything and anything that could break — and ordering is as simple and easy as buying a whole new unit. That is awesome.
I love that today’s global economy is offering up incredible products designed to make our lives more convenient and more enjoyable. I also love that these products are becoming increasingly affordable and within reach of more Kiwis families. But I don’t love the culture of just throwing things away when they break or products that are destined for the landfill.
Repairable products FTW 👍