By Michael Jessen
In our economy, it's cheaper to throw things away than to repair them.
Minimum wage laws have raised the cost of labour to protect employees, but there are still no laws that protect raw materials and energy from over-exploitation. Labour is expensive, raw materials and energy relatively cheap.
As a result, producers "economize" on labour, but not on disposable materials. The marketplace is filled with huge volumes of short-lived products that aren't designed for reuse.
World advertising expenditures have grown from $39 billion in 1950 to $256 billion in 1990. Consumers haven't been able to resist and the volume of goods produced and consumed since 1950 exceeds the total volume consumed by all the previous generations put together.
Here are some consumer actions to encourage repair and reuse.
Resist throw-aways: no matter how convenient they seem, there is no such place as away.
Recognize the value of previously owned items: check your local yellow pages for second-hand shopping options and check the newspaper for garage sales.
Invest in your possessions: spend a little extra on products that will last.
Maintain your investment: take care of the things you buy so that they will last.
Respect the needs of charities: repair your hand-me-downs before you pass them along to the needy.
Rent instead of buying: rental shops provide community economic opportunity, as well as conserving resources.
Pool your resources: make arrangements with a friend or relative to share ownership of items you use only on occasion.
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