I bought a new blender the other day. I was excited about it. It made me happy. I looked at different models, read reviews, read the specs, and ordered it for the best price I could find online. It arrived and I removed it from the box, washed it, put it together, read the manual (because that’s what I do) and packed up my old, garage sale bought, leaky, broken in several places blender in the new box and took it to the goodwill. My thought was ‘this is still a good blender, it still works, someone might need it’. I know that in my lifetime there have been a few times I didn’t have a blender and would have welcomed one, even with a broken handle and in need of a new rubber washer. A day later, the new blender got knocked off the counter and the handle cracked (just like the old one had been). So now, the world has at least two cracked handle blenders – and when I visited the Goodwill a few days later – I saw at least 20 blenders sitting on the shelf for $6 each and no one lining up to buy them. My new blender was so affordable ($25! And New! And Shiny! And Better?) that I hadn’t bothered to check if there was a good used one available.
I think the developed world is very much like that right now. Things that used to be scarce and thus relatively expensive are now cheap and available to everyone via the internet or discount stores like Ross or Walmart. For just a few dollars more, I can buy a new blender instead of an old one. I can buy new plates and mugs for not much more than I could find them at a thrift shop for. Over the past several months, I’ve donated truckloads of plates, dishes, glassware, clothing, appliances, decor, and more to thrift shops. One day I smashed six tables of low-end glassware at my shop – it was incredibly fun and no one is going to miss any of that stuff. I pulled out three big tubs and started throwing glass into them, then I smashed it with a hammer, then I took it to the dump. I’ll bet 80% of the stuff in most thrift stores is like that. Maybe more.
Cheap jewelry that looks like real jewelry, fake leather bound books, mass produced Persian style rugs, Chinese watches, mass produced wall art, and the list goes on and on. I try very hard these days to not have any of that stuff in my shop. My shop is an antique shop, but more, I’ve tried to make it a shop that has interesting things you won’t find elsewhere – hand made copper and brass, sterling silver, rare or interesting books, fine pottery and porcelain – but still, the regular stuff just seems to pile up. And so I make trips to the Goodwill, I make trips to the flea market (where that stuff is increasingly hard to even give away), I go to the dump.
I suspect, that there will be a time in the near future – when the thrift stores will stop accepting all of this cheap stuff and you will be faced with either keeping it or paying to dispose of it at the dump.
It’s a shame that we waste our resources, our time, our money on this kind of garbage. I’m sure that if I still had my grandmothers old blender – it would still be working. I wonder if my mom still has it? Maybe I’ll ask.