Think Sustainable, Buy Durable

Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do

Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving in the US is infamous for early-morning sales and hordes of shoppers. If your plans for Black Friday include a tactical shopping mission - I have a suggestion. Buy Durable Stuff. Whatever it is you shop for, choose products that are made to last. For a product to be sustainable it must also be durable. Now, how do you find well made, durable stuff?

For me, step one in buying durable goods is research. The more expensive the item, the more I research to avoid likely repairs or replacement. Consumer Reports has useful product reports, especially the repair history ratings which show the models and brands that last (check your local library for back issues). Some websites, like Cool Tools, have good product reviews, but read carefully to filter out overly-biased reviews. I also ask my friends who have experience with whatever product I am shopping for. Asking a dedicated hobbyist or a pro is often a quick way to find the most durable stuff. I also choose those manufacturers and stores that fully guarantee their products to work and last.

The second step in buying durable goods is rejecting the stuff that breaks. I have an electronic indoor/outdoor thermometer made by a company whose name loosely rhymes with 'Bore Again Soporific'. This battery-powered gizmo was built as cheaply as possible, and it shows in how quickly it broke. Fortunately, I bought it from a company with a 100% guarantee on everything they sell, so I'm sending the thermometer back.

Finding well-made products is tricky, but finding durable electronics can be truly challenging. Especially inexpensive consumer electronics, many of which are designed to break. The next indoor/outdoor thermometer I buy will be from a different manufacturer and possibly more expensive. But, I won't settle for products that are designed to break and are un-repairable. I am done with buying and replacing products that don't last. When I do buy a product that breaks, I take it back and tell the manufacturer why (instead of harassing the store clerk).

I know that some designers and manufacturers make solid, durable products. They have respect for their work and for me. Whether I'm buying a pair of boots, a hand tool or an electronic gizmo I look for the durable choice. Avoiding the frustration of replacing broken and cheaply made stuff is worth some research and a price difference. By choosing durability we move towards sustainability and start to change Black Friday into a cool, white holiday.

More Info:

Sustainable Design

Cool Tools

The Story of Electronics

Electronics TakeBack Coalition

The Designers Accord

Maker's Bill of Rights