There has always been an economy parallel to the inefficient waste of natural resources and raw materials. A few decades ago, this parallel economy emerged with the culture of recycling.
At the time of our grandparents, this tendency of thought and way of life was already taking shape with their habit of trying to fix everything before replacing it with something new.It must be said that this was partly due to the health of the domestic economy, but also partly because of that philosophy of life.
Recycling and reuse as a philosophy of life (and economy)
The truth is that, in human psychology, not being able to buy those objects of desire that we see our neighbor with usually ends up with us making superfluous expenses, or at least those that we could not otherwise afford.
And after recycling, came the concept of the circular economy
The next stop in that mindset of making the economy as efficient and sustainable as possible is in the circular economy.
The circular economy is based on the premise that no by-product, composed of waste, is wasted. In the natural environment, everything ends up having a second life and function, and is taken advantage of by another living being.
Actually the concept is complex to implement at the level of the economic-industrial fabric in general, butÂ we must certainly innovate. We would benefit a lot, and the reasons go beyond mere socioeconomic sustainability since in many cases, the circular economy is very profitable economically as well.
And that economic profitability of the circular economy is based mostly on the obviousness that discarding waste is often expensive, while a byproduct that is itself the raw material of another industrial process is the opposite – it pays for itself.
The “Can it be fixed?” Philosophy
Very often, it is cheaper to buy a new washing machine, for example, than to repair the one that already exists.
A few decades ago it is true that the significantly higher cost of an appliance meant that the savings were in fixing it, but it is no less true that the philosophy of life was different, and that in the event of a breakdown, the first thing that was thought was to fix an appliance.Nowadays, what most people do when faced with a breakdown is automatically to start looking at the price of a new appliance, and a large part of the fault is also programmed obsolescence: the useful life has been shortened, and repairs are more difficult to amortize.
It is also true that, on the part of manufacturers, the problem is not only the terrible and unjust obsolescence scheduled, they also discourage, as a general rule, the repair of their products against the purchase of a new one. But socioeconomic flows have begun to appear against this harmful trend, and they are spreading like wildfire.
Often, these ideological-economic currents are articulated around groups of volunteers, convinced that socioeconomic sustainability goes far beyond generating superfluous growth through compulsive consumption. These volunteers teach people and help them not automatically throw away any object or appliance that breaks down.
Beyond a consumer philosophy, it is a fundamental right of consumers
The philosophy of these teams of volunteers even enters the pseudo-political arena, and they advocate for claiming the “right to repair” of consumers.You are the owner of those products, you have the right to take a screwdriver and play with it.” But this seemingly innocuous attitude comes into confrontation, even legal, with the practices of companies like John Deere.
The famous manufacturer of agricultural machinery and equipment, shielding itself from patents and copyright laws, expressly forbids its customers to repair their own machinery by themselves or go to third parties to do so, even if they have purchased it and own it. Which is inconceivable under one of the most fundamental principles of capitalism: private property.Some see the right to repair as one of the fundamental rights of consumers.
As a sign of their selfless contribution to the cause, they carry out repairs in the presence of their clients. The reason is to explain step by step the whole repair process, so that they can learn to do it themselves on subsequent occasions. Its final objective is to extend its philosophy of life and consumption that is re-sustainable.
The results speak for themselves
And the fact is that this “do it yourself”Â current is contagious. This philosophy of consumption is economically very profitable, both for volunteers and businessesThe objective is to extend their philosophy of consumption so that others do not stumble where they have already stumbled, making life easier for them to achieve common socioeconomic objectives (and beneficial for society as a whole).
But the most significant result is the fact that hundreds of thousands of tons of products and appliances have not ended up in landfills.Not to mention the inefficient consumption that would have meant replacing gently used products unnecessarily and prematurely with newer products – with the consequent expenditure of resources and energy.
What we should think about is the impact that this philosophy of consumption would show if it were generalized in our socioeconomies. Think about it.
With your weekly purchases, you are looking for an ephemeral and instantaneous happiness consisting of simplistically consuming physical objects. Don’t get me wrong, buying is fine whenever it is necessary. But think about whether you consume to live, or live to consume.