Thursday, 3 November 2011

Buy nothing new for a year - the Made in China effect

Image from here
After eight months doing the challenge, many things are starting to wear out and/or break. Toys are the worst culprits, followed by clothes. Have you noticed that things seem to be made to 'replace' nowadays rather than last a lifetime? What is with that? 

Added to the cheapness of design and materials (Made in China anyone?) is the planned obsolescence (a policy of deliberately planning or designing a product with a limited useful life). All the big brands are culprits. Who hasn't bought an Apple product knowing full well that the next version will be out within a year?

I have thought a lot about how we approached purchasing in the past. While we have always had a lot of hand-me-downs, op-shop purchases and the like, when it came to buying new things we often sought a 'bargain'. Cheap and cheerful. Never the cheapest version, but never the most expensive either.

This challenge has helped me learn the value of quality over quantity. Truth be told, if I had an unlimited disposable income, I think I would have always shopped that way. But as we are slowly unravel "want" versus "need" this year, I feel we will be in a better place to manage the influence of advertising and marketing and balance that against our budget when we are able to buy new again.

I read a really great post over at G-Online about Learning how to Avoid Planned Obsolescence. In order to find things that will be easy to maintain and reuse for many years they recommend:

1. Researching. Check out consumer reports to find brands that have cheap parts and are known to be easy to maintain
2. Learning to mend. Learning basic sewing and basic DIY skills will keep your clothes and your household good going for longer (YouTube will be your friend if you are learning these new skills).
3. Buying reusable, repairable items in the first place. Taking time with the initial purchase will mean less time in the long run.

So another month of growth and development on the BNN front.

How do you manage the "Made in China" effect in your household?


Kymmie said...

Is it just me, or do we sound like our grandmother when we say, "things don't last like they use to".

So glad you posted about this, because, believe it or not, I've been wondering how you keep up with the maintenance. You know, the fixing and stuff. My life is FULL of fixing stuff. I have half the amount of kids!

We are frugal here, but I think we could be a bit more. Not buying anything new AND doing Fancy Pants would be the ultimate challenge!

When making a major purchase, my husband asks, "Whats the best value for money?" Never "What's the cheapest?" This means we buy the thing that has the greatest value - readily-available parts, long lasting, simple repairs...

It means we spend about a year making a decision. But oh, what a decision!

Also, I think about you often when I'm pondering on whether I should do this challenge next year.



PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Back in the olden days (ie about 15 years ago...) I'd buy a pair of opaque pantyhose that'd last me for years. Now? Lucky to get a few washes out of some. I mend, buy second hand and really consider my products. I hate the waste of throwing things out - when I finally can't mend a product I expect a new life as a dustcloth.

Great post, love, love, love that you've kept this up all year. You're an inspiration x

Ali said...

For large purchases we always try to buy the best quality that we can afford. We also don't replace something unless it really needs replacing – we still don't have a flat screen tv – the old, small one works well so we will stick with it. I fall into the trap of buying cheap clothing but most regret it as it falls apart or loses it's shape after a few washes.

Diminishing Lucy said...

Appliances - I learned from my Granny and my mother and my Dad that best is best. I save (and save for a long time some times) for the very best appliances. Research is key.

Clothes - experience shows me that for kids, Seed and Esprit and Fred Bare clothes last three, four, five kids. So I accept these as hand my downs, look for bargains on Ebay, and buy the rest on sale from DJ's. (And with kids clothes I also shop to a list of needs rather than wants...)

My clothes? I have learned, since moving into a "normal" size, that certain brands wash and wear and LAST forever...I buy them. No more KMart for me, despite the cheapness being tempting...

Maxabella said...

I actually think I do pretty well in this category. I have been careful to find brands that seem to last and I will mend rather than throw. This is how I manage to have things to hand down... I also skip sizes in the clothing game - a size too large is barely noticeable in children. We barely did size 1, 3 or 5 in this house.

I don't buy "fussy" in anything. Fussy rarely lasts. And we try to take care of things. The area that I ail miserably in on all counts is toys. I buy the fussy shite and the fussy shite breaks or turns into mountains of clutter every time.

I think there is a line between cheap and quality and it's a few bucks. More than that and you're just buying a very expensive logo. x

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I think this is such an interesting challenge, and I love hearing what you're learning from it that will affect your buying behavior in the future. It's interesting that your insights are beyond "we don't need as much stuff as we thought".

As for "Made in China", I have a little funny for you. My girls are really in the middle of "why, why, why" these days. They like to ask where things came from. I usually start with 'I bought this at Target,' or 'This was a gift from your aunt.' The conversation often continues, "But who made it?" Occasionally I can tell them, if it's a handcrafted item, but I have said on too many occasions, 'Probably somebody in China.' The girls say that from time to time themselves, and then sometimes A will ask, "Maybe a panda bear?" Hahaha!!! I love how their little minds work, even if it is sometimes a sad reflection on the state of our world!

Carolyn said...

You have a great plan for buying nothing made in China. Thrift stores are a good source of buying things that are gently used.

I will try to make this a "Made in USA Christmas in 2011" for my family. So far I have bought the Hallmark UNICEF boxed Christmas cards which are MADE IN USA. Most of Hallmark's boxed Christmas cards are Made in China. For my next purchase, I am looking for a tea set from Fiesta which is made in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Great comments here, and we too have learned over the years that it's often better to ignore the sales, do our research, and buy when we can afford to buy well designed products that will not be replaced next season.
Also having less stuff - and better quality stuff - makes keeping on top of repairs easier. If you always have a spare on hand - or can buy a cheap replacement - it's so tempting to replace rather than repair. We try very hard not to do that, because it's just SO wasteful.
Wonderful post!

Mum on the Run said...

It is sickening the way that previously treasured and handed down items (like toys) are now considered pretty much disposable.
"Oh well. We'll buy another."
Guilty and red faced over here.
You, however, are inspiring.

Petra said...

great post and very admirable how far you have come with buying nothing new. I am desperately trying to get out of the mindset of buying toys just because they are cheap and will entertain the kids for a couple of hours because the products always end up broken or forgotten.

danneromero said...

it's hard to hold back, not to buy.. yet so rewarding to not buy.... fortunately, for me, i am not much of a shopper, so i have adapted well to having to cut back.. only buy necessities... and still live contently...

Sam-O said...

We've had a financial reversal over the last 6 months. I've adjusted quite well coming from a frugal family but the Workaholic feels he was deprived as a child and must buy new and expensive everything. It is very hard to live with someone who cannot account for where his money goes because it goes on crap that he loses, wastes, breaks or gives away. My share of the $ is easily accounted for and I believe well spent.

Kirsten- The Foreign Domestic said...

Wow. I learned something new reading your blog and comments on your blog today. Thank you for sharing this!

River said...

For appliances, I usually buy the type I want, eg front loader over top loader, and get the one that has the longest guarantee. My washer has a 25 year guarantee, it's already 15-16 years old and still going strong. After 6 house moves.
Clothes? I don't care so much about how I look, so wear jeans and t-shirts a lot. I buy mens clothes because I find they're tougher, going in the wash and coming out looking good year after year. Women's t-shirts look pretty, but don't seem to last. Shoes are the worst, even expensive, top-name brands don't last any longer than the cheaper brands.

Carolyn said...

Buy Nothing Day is Friday November 25. Celebrate the day - Buy Nothing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...