Things are just not built to last anymore 10



View Profile

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.

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?

Guest Contributor

  1. I still have my General Electric Mobile 12 washing machine which I purchased brand new in 1978 and it is still going strong. I’ve only had the bowl springs replaced and the wiring re-routed as the stop/start mechanism in the lid broke down. It is the most reliable machine and the only one I have ever owned. Top that!

  2. In 1936 my dad brought a brand new Pontiac, I learned to drive on it and my dad gave it to me in 1969 when I got my licence. I still drive it almost everyday. Apart from regular maintenance it has never broken down. The old girl turns 80 next year and is as reliable today as the day it rolled off the production line.

  3. It’s called planned obsolescence and, yes, it’s been around a long time, but more prevalent since the mid seventies. I also had an unbreakable EH 🙂

  4. My parents bought a Silent Knight refrigerator in 1945. My brother uses it as his beer fridge now.

  5. Your comments I have read with interest and share your concerns about the fragility of items, in terms of life expectancy. Electronics must be one of the greatest offenders. In times past, circuits were over-engineered to ensure durability. Today the opposite applies with TV’s and the like being ditched for the want of a $0.40 resistor that is under valued and designed to fail in a set period of time. Companies will not provide details required to locate the broken item, and so a new “motherboard” must be purchased, usually at a cost exceeding that of the broken machine. It’s all quite deliberate, and it’s what makes to world go round. The rich get richer, and the poor, poorer. It does no pay to lie in bed pondering these things or madness will surely be your end.

  6. Had to buy a new washing machine because a 2mm piece broke and could not be replaced. Cost me $80 to be told that

  7. I only replaced my car battery last year 2014 not unusual but I brought the car 07 /01 /2006 yep it is a Nissan Pulsar, the battery was a Panasonic brand , never seen one before, It lasted 8 years , never had the top of , hadn’t CHANGED oil in 5 years , topped it up but not changed, have spent less than $500 , including tyres in all that time .

  8. Buy Quality. Cheap rubbish is false ecoomy. My Toyota Landcruiser BJ73 lasted 25 years and did almost a million miles. My 1994 R 100 BMW motorcycle has done over 300,000 miles and is still going.
    Buy Quality and look after it. Or buy rubbish and whine about it.

  9. My fridge is about 23 years old and still going strong, it is built in, so when it dies, I could have rather a large bill. I have been pretty lucky with electrical appliances, touch wood they seem to last.

  10. I know a fridge mechanic and he told me that appliances are only made to work until the warranty runs out.I have a forty year old fridge i use for beer etc and it works better than the one i bought 2 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *