In the junk removal business, we frequently see things as they’re wearing out and getting close to the end of their useful lifespan. And whether it’s a couch, a chair, clothing, or just about anything else, it seems that things are wearing out and getting to the end of their useful lifespan faster than in previous years.
For example, if you listen to the experts, a couch should last between 7 and 15 years. But then you survey the public, and you discover that the average sofa in people’s homes is only 6 years old.
What’s going on?
It used to be that something like a couch or a chair was hand-crafted, one piece at a time. And because it was hand-crafted, it was both expensive and (typically) high-quality. It was designed with the idea of repairability in mind. So if you broke a leg on your chair, a furniture repair person could come out, replace your chair leg, and have you “good as new”.
Then we began mass-producing things. Machines made many tasks easier, and initially that usually meant a machine-made product that was very similar to the traditional hand-made product. Everything was less expensive to produce, so companies could be more profitable while selling their goods for less. It was a win for everybody, and things were still usually repairable – although the lower prices might have made it less likely that a person would repair any given furniture item.
And then came the era of the “big box” type stores. Rather than making a quality product and pricing it at a market rate, the equation has been flipped on its head. The goal went from “the same quality, but less expensive” to just “less expensive”. This means that there are, quite literally, products that are made to be sold for a particular price. Whether they’re functional or long-lasting is almost a secondary consideration.
So you’ll walk into a big-box store, and you’ll see a couch. This couch is $350, and the one at your local mid-range furniture store might be $1000.
What’s the difference?
While it’s tempting to think that the big box store “buys direct and passes the savings on to you”, the odds are good that the $350 couch was designed from the get-go to be a $350 couch. The foam padding, the frame, the fabric, and even the quality of assembly was all designed for the express purpose of being able to sell you a cheap couch.
And if that’s what you want – a cheap couch – then you’ll get exactly what you pay for. And you’ll almost certainly be calling a couch removal service a lot sooner than 7 to 15 years from now.
But what if you actually want a good-quality product?
Allow us to introduce the concept of “buy it for life”. A quick Google will yield many websites, Internet forums, etc. with the “buy it for life” theme, but the basic idea is simple – don’t just buy something because it’s cheap. Buy it because it’s a good value for the money when you consider the “whole package” – including longevity. The goal, of course, is to buy a product and not ever need to buy it again.
This eliminates a huge amount of junk from the landfill, but it also saves you a ton of time – and will usually save you some money in the long term as well.
Some things are, of course, very challenging to buy this way. Finding “the last sofa you’ll ever have to buy” might be a tall order, but you might be able to find a sofa with easily replaceable foam and springs. You’ll almost certainly be able to find a high-quality product that will massively outlast that $350 “big box special”. And longer product lifespans mean less hauling huge furniture in and out of your home!
For other items, you might find products that are legitimately “the last _____ you’ll ever have to buy”.
We’re big on repurposing, re-homing, and recycling, but when it comes to stemming the tide of stuff going into the landfill there’s only so much re-homing you can do with low-quality stuff. And there are definite limits to what recycling can accomplish.
If you’d like to jump off the “remove, re-buy, repeat” treadmill, consider looking into the many sustainable, durable, high-quality products that are out there. They’ll likely cost a bit more in the beginning, but they’ll help save your wallet – and the planet – long-term!
And of course when your current stuff wears out, we’re just a phone call away. We’ll give you a fast, free quote that includes not only removal of the junk from your home or property, but re-homing, recycling, or disposal as necessary.