Flat Pack Society
Flat pack furniture is filling our lives. Is there a better example of our consumer society: built to last three minutes, cheap so that it is bought in its millions, made from suquelent resource sucking materials and most importantly almost useless. I am no fan of Ikea or the like. My blinds are from Ikea they have never worked properly; they are hanging on by a thread (literally) and will soon end up in the bin. We need to reverse the trend towards cheap, wasteful, and annoying consumption (annoying because drawing my curtains drives me up the wall every evening).
Capitalism demands products to be cheap, mass producible and appealing. Much of our furniture fills all the criteria and for those wanting to replace their furniture every two years the market has answered their calls. Stuff is no longer built to last; it is built to make it from the shop to your house, then if you do not use it, it will last for several years, before it’s built in destruction device kicks. To reverse this trend we need to stop looking at the direct price and consider that a more expensive product means quality.
The problem is the mass of people want something today and they do not want to wait until tomorrow when they could actually afford something descent. I may sound like a snob, but you do get what you pay for. It took me several years of Argos shopping to learn this. Lesson learnt after five products, at least, went wrong. There was the bike lock that would not unlock, the kinetic watch that just stopped, and there was the home gym that could not take my weight. They all ended up in the bin, the bike lock even took a brand new Argos grinder with it that I needed to free my bike.
We need a product planet safety test. Products that fail to last are after all dangerous to our health, because without proper quality controls our planet will run out of resources and end up just one big tip. The rate at which we are transferring wood, oil and metal to the landfill site is horrifying.
Of course there is the question of equality. Everybody should be able to create a home affordably and the Ikeas and Argoses of this world are doing an admirable social service. No. Products can still be affordable and built to last. If something can only be made cheaply when it falls apart after two years then we need to rethink anyway. Is it more important that people have rubbish in the shape of furniture in their houses or is more important that our forests and oil reserves remain intake?
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