I’m grateful for things that last. My little Honda, for example. I’m grateful for numerous offers from neighbors to give me a lift to pick her up, and for the one whose timing worked out today; I’m grateful that Ray got her done quickly once he received the new starter required to get her running again. The cost was staggering, but much better than having to replace the engine or the entire vehicle. I’d been thinking about a new car, but I really like this little old Honda I’ve had for seventeen years this month. Ray was impressed with what great shape she’s in, and amazed that she’s only been in his shop one time many years ago. I’m impressed with how long she’s been running, and grateful for how long she is lasting.
I’m grateful for the sixty-plus-year-old potato masher that Auntie gave me. I’m grateful for ancestral lamps with ancient wires, and old tintype photographs of some of those ancestors. I’m grateful for the carbon steel paring knife my father gave me when I left home for college, which I use every day and remains my favorite knife. I’m grateful for many things that last. I just scooped some kitty litter from the bin into the box using an old square Tupperware that I’ve been using for this purpose longer than I can remember. I do recall that it was my mother’s container and she also used it for many years before she died, which was nineteen years ago this month. I must have packed something in it to bring home safely after her demise, and used it until I lost the lid. Because it had lasted so long, and was so sturdy, I turned it into a kitty litter scoop. Show me a plastic container made today that will function for thirty or forty years: Oh, I’m sure they’ll last, in landfills and oceans, but would they actually still function?
There aren’t that many things that last, anymore. Just when we needed to start conserving resources and energy and manufacturing things that last, companies got the bright idea of planned obsolescence. I was horrified when I learned of this strategy years ago, and I’m still angry about it. I’m grateful for this eloquent diatribe from pioneering rock-climber and outdoors-outfitter Yvon Chouinard, where he pleads for corporate responsibility to return to making things that last. He discusses planned obsolescence and introduces the latest insidious profit-grabbing, planet-destroying strategy, quality fade. This involves “slowly downgrading materials to save money and duping customers into buying something a little bit worse each time even if the label stays the same. As a result, products that could have been made to last a lifetime — or even generations — end up in landfills.”
It’s a great read, and short. I enjoyed learning about how Chouinard developed his quality-driven product ethic from his climbing gear origins, which brought to mind memories of dating a climber in the early 80s who revered Chouinard, and his gear. I’m grateful for some sweet memories that last from that time. And I’m grateful for Patagonia, the company that Chouinard founded, which turns fifty this year. Another thing that’s lasted. And just last year, Patagonia made Earth their only shareholder, a revolutionary corporate approach to conservation.