Things are just not built to last anymore

The other day, one of my car windows fell into the door. It was just bad luck and I was a bit peeved but these things just happen. Then, not two days after my other window had been fixed, the driver’s side window also fell into the door. It made me mad that this had happened again but then I thought about it on a larger scale – things just aren’t as durable as they used to be.

This isn’t my first car, oh no, it’s my 7th or 8th car in my life, if not more. Think about that for a second: none of my previous cars lasted long enough for me to have them for a decent lifespan. Now, I’m not the sort of person who buys a new car just because I want it and then sell off the others. No, I’m the sort of person who will run a car into the ground – and that’s what they always do, without fail.

I remember back when I was a kid and my dad had an EH Holden. That beast never died and refused to break. It was a machine in all senses of the word and to this day, he has it in his shed and drives it from time to time. That’s a 50-year-old car and it refuses to give up. As for my four-year-old car, well, it wasn’t made to last…and that’s how they get you.

I had a bit more of a think – do you remember how we’d have clothes passed down to us from kid to kid? Our clothes weren’t tatty and they were years old. We had a cast iron pan that mum had for years, durable shoes, TVs that lasted 10-15 years, fridges that run forever…the list goes on. And now, we have things that break on us constantly.

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Take smart phones for example. My granddaughter constantly breaks her phone screen and yet my sturdy older model Nokia is unbreakable. It made me do some research into why this happens and I was quite annoyed with what I found, although not shocked.

It’s called the lightbulb conspiracy, and how, back in the 1930s, a cartel decided that the everlasting lightbulbs being sold weren’t able to generate an everlasting income – once someone bought one, they never needed another! So the cartel and the engineers worked hard on a more fragile model and reduced the hours that a lightbulb could last for, under law. This was only the beginning. Women’s nylon stockings were once unable to be ripped and would never run, until it was realised that they wouldn’t have repeat business…so you guessed it: they made them more delicate and breakable so we’d buy more.

Gradually, other products started to be made more breakable so it’s no surprise that our cars and phones and TVs break so easily, because if they didn’t, we’d never buy more. It’s very disappointing when you think of how durable things were. And now, we’re filling up the world with trash because we keep throwing things out. Take a look at this photo of Agbogbloshie in Ghana, where electronics companies dump their electronic waste:


I have started to look into how to make my own things last longer and although I can’t make my car more resilient, I can treat what I have more carefully. Just a bit of food for thought!


Do you think things used to last long when you were growing up? Is there a problem now?