Grayson over at FrugualRules.ca recently wrote a great article about our “throw-away culture” and it got me thinking about all the extremely wasteful consumer products that have wormed their way into our lives over the years. Here’s a few just to help you picture the type of products I’m talking about:
- Kreurig Single Cup coffee pods
- Swiffer Sweepers
- Lunchables (and any other pre-packaged snacks)
- Disposable Razors
All of these products are pushed as “conveniences” and modern solutions to age-old problems. Not only are they not necessary – but they are relatively expensive and are extremely wasteful. Our landfills are bulging at the seams with this shit.
The rise of these convenience products is closely linked with the rise of household income. As you financial freedom fighters know, people generally increase their spending in lock-step with their level of income. As people’s income grew, so did people’s capacity to splurge on the “latest and greatest thing”. Marketers seized this opportunity and pushed these “innovations” on an unwitting, credit-fueled populous. Everyday, new products are added to our stores in the hope of conning us to trade our hard-earned money for the allure of “new” and the promise of saving a bit more time. More time, of course, to be used watching TV…so they can convince us we need even more new products.
Sorry – I know this sounds particularly negative, but frankly it pisses me off. I hate the feeling of being taken for a sucker. And mark my words, many in the marketing profession thinks of us as suckers. It’s been going on for YEARS too. Even products that we’ve used all of our lives are sold to us ways designed to trick us into consuming more.
Toothpaste for example. Every toothpaste commercial or advertisement I can remember has always used an image of a perfectly formed log of toothpaste on a brand new tooth-brush (like this one). But you actually only need a pea sized drop. More toothpaste than that doesn’t make your teeth any cleaner.
Shampoo is a classic example. “Lather, rise, and repeat” is just a slick marketing gimmick to get us to use more shampoo every shower. One quarter sized blob of shampoo is all most of us need.
Laundry detergent is another great example. You can get your cloths just as clean with a fraction of the “recommended” amount of detergent. This is even truer for the new front-loading washing machines. Because they use a smaller amount of water, you need very little detergent. When Jane and I bought our new washer, the very helpful sales person explained this to us. To wash a load of laundry now, we use just over a tablespoon of soap and our clothes are as clean as ever.
The truth of the matter is, much of our modern marketplace is taken up with wasteful products we don’t really need. I’ve never liked the term “disposable income” because I don’t think any of my income is “disposable”. Disposable by definition means something intended to be used once and then thrown away. Well I don’t believe in throwing away any of my income. Yet – the majority of the western world see their money as exactly that – something to throw away on disposable products.
So – what products have you seen lately that are clearly nothing more than an attempt to divide you and your money?