The real cost of gear

We live in a time of rentals
Every month I look at the mortgage repayment. It is payment for something I use but have not fully earned or fully own. In a way I am renting my own house. And I wonder to what else that applies.

This is certainly apparent with cars (often fancier than we can afford) and mobile phones. We are paying off something on a monthly basis. But then we can take that thinking to all products we purchase. Take a pair of Running shoes which costs R2400. They might last a year (more realistically I have half a dozen shoes going at the same time but let’s not complicate things right now) so actually you are paying R200 towards those shoes every month until you need to replace them.
And that cost has an environmental cost too. The more money I need to earn to buy my toys the more I impact on the environment.

I have worked with top brands in the outdoor game. The cost of gear is staggering but I wonder about the hidden cost on our environment. It is probably in proportion to what we pay at retail. What I mean is that the environmental cost of building a rocket is far bigger than building a car which is bigger than an energy bar. I know it is a huge assumption but bear with me.

What is the point of owning the most organic, sheep dog friendly, moisture wicking rain jacket if it does not last? Maybe a way of judging the cost of gear is to divide the cost by how many months you own (or use) said item.

I remember Alec bringing in an original MSR Model 9 stove 20 years after he bought it. All it needed was a replaced pump and it was good to go. The design has not changed much in the next 20 years either. Why? Because it works. The XGK is still the beast amongst stoves. The recommended retail price is currently R2999. By contrast your monthly repayment is around R12,50.

Contrast that to our phone technology that lasts 2 to max 4 years. A new phone iPhone costs between R5999 to R18999. The monthly payment is in the range of R125 to R 790. The difference is real.

I have t shirts that have lasted less than 6 months and jackets that are 10 years of regular wear. That difference is phenomenal. That cost too is phenomenal on our wallet and on the planet.

Obviously the impact of manufacturing is a factor but if the product does not last then the feel good effect from ‘clean’ products is just that.

Is it not time that we make decisions based on longevity rather than short term appeal?

I heard the following this week:
“It is only one straw, said 6 billion people”

Is it not time we thought differently?

Is it not time that we celebrate products that have smaller impacts rather than bigger?
This would mean we celebrate products that keep working, are easy to repair and do not go out of fashion.

I don’t want to go into made local and all the other enviro factors. I am purely talking cost to you and longevity. Sometimes increased cost means significantly increased longevity.

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