Monday, 19 April 2010

The throwaway society

During my efforts at gardening over the past few days, I've become increasingly aware that the pair of hand shears I've been using to clip the shrubs and overgrowing foliage are pretty blunt. They only cut properly at the extreme tip and at the very least need sharpening and adjusting. I can't remember how long I've had them nor how much I paid for them, but they weren't "el cheapo" ones and up until now they've given pretty good service. Quite some years ago I had the lawn mower serviced and some shears done as well, but the guy I used then seems to no longer be in business and I couldn't track anyone down locally who advertises that they do this sort of thing. Maybe like the village blacksmith/knife sharpener, it's a dying trade.

Hardly surprising in a way: I did find online a professional tool sharpening service which would cost £6 - reasonable enough - but plus £4 for the return carriage plus whatever it cost me to pack them securely and send them (probably another £4). Against that, the cost of some new ones with a 5-year guarantee is £13. So on the face of it, it looks like it's pretty uneconomic to get them serviced. Which is true of an increasing number of consumer goods of all shapes and sizes these days: the high labour cost of fixing something like a toaster or a coffee machine for example means I wouldn't even try, and with something like a washing machine the call-out charge alone tots up to almost £100. It all amounts to a considerable disincentive to even try and prolong the life of anything by repairing it. I daresay the scrap metal guy who comes round in his lorry touting for business does rather well out of it all, though.

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