The Throwaway Society

by Ruth Olsson

My watch stopped.  They do that once in awhile.  It obviously needed a new battery–or something.  It was a Timex that could also light up.  Handy at concerts or in the middle of the night when you don’t feel like  rolling over to look at the clock.  I loved it.

I tried and tried to open the back.  Used my nails–no go.  Used a knife–nearly slit my finger open.  What a puzzle–no notch to hook onto.  Why do they make this so difficult!  I had this problem once before.  Finally threw the darn thing away and got a new

Aha!  The light dawned.  This is what they wanted!!!  They WANT ME TO GET A NEW WATCH!  You are not supposed to change the battery or take it to be fixed in any way.  What you are meant to do is take it off your wrist and toss it in the trash!!  It’s planned obsolescence, no question about it!  Are our oceans not yet full enough of junk?  Or our landfills?  Are they hungry for old computers, old toasters, old anything?

We all have the experience of owning a piece of equipment passed down from another generation, a piece that still works.  In my case it’s a toaster belonging to my grandmother and bought in the forties.  It still works.  Once in awhile we take it out to marvel at that fact and produce a decent piece of toast.  Of course we don’t use it regularly because it simply uses too much electricity.  However the fact that it works well is impressive and proves that it can be done!  How many toasters have you replaced in the last thirty years?  I dread to think.

Really, is this okay?  Is this what we want?  A society that fills up landfills and oceans with junk instead of making things that last?  I think it’s sad.  There must be another way.