Thursday, January 21, 2010

We Are Such a Throw Away Society

Hey all,

I was going to write about something else today, but then I went to the store and something happened that really bugged me.

Now, I understand about supply and demand as well as cost effectiveness and all that, but to me this just doesn't make sense.

Here's the thing... I have a manuscript I've been asked to send in, so obviously I want it to look it's best. My printer ink was a little low so I decided to pick up a new one. Didn't want the bloody ink to run out half way through the three chapters.

So I toddle off to Walmart to get a print cartridge and grit my teeth as I get close to the display because I know how expensive the things are. I find what I need and want to groan. There is just something wrong about paying $43.00 for a pair of print cartridges.

Now, we usually just refill the cartridges we have, but that can be a hit and miss endeavor print quality wise. Since I wanted the pages I was doing to look really good, I didn't want to use the refills.

Then I remember what happened the last time I went in to get cartridges, and quickly turn around to look at the printers available. And sure enough, there is a brand new printer. Cost? Only $40.00. Complete WITH both print cartridges!!!


Why on earth would a brand new printer--same manufacturer--be LESS money than the ink needed to use them? It makes no bloody sense!

Obviously the printer itself is worthless. For some reason it's the ink that chews up the chunk of change you're willing to put down. But it just seems wrong. Then I did some figuring and realized, while it may not be as convenient for me, I can go get the manuscript printed out at KINKOs or STAPLES at a tenth of the price.

But it really showed me what a disposable society we are. Things like the printer or even a DVD player, TV or other electronic equipment, they are all built NOT to last. And that drives me crazy.

So what do you think? Does it bother you to have to re-buy something every year that you used to be able to keep a good part of your lifetime? What other "goods" have you seen that are now just throw away. Toss in your opinion in the comments below.



Phylis said...

That is frustrating as hell and one reason why I haven't picked up a color cartridge...other than I can't afford it right now. Also makes me think ahead of what is worth printing. Another thing that bothers me packaging that is 4 or 5 times bigger than the item you are buying. It's frustrating!

Maria said...

I don't believe that we're really a disposable society. I believe that the problem is that business interests want us to keep having to purchase new things. I too get infuriated every time that I have to purchase printer ink for the very same reasons and as you stated the quality is iffy when you have the cartridges refilled. The price for printer toner is really outrageous!

CJ England said...


I used to wonder what the manufacturers were thinking, but now I'm pretty sure it's just because of the almighty buck, I'm sure.

And packaging is another rant worthy blog, for sure!


CJ England said...


But doesn't that make us a disposable society? I mean if businesses are pushing us to dispose of things we used to be able to hold on to?

I think I'm still just pissed that we have to do it.


D. Musgrave said...

Is there room on the soap box beside you?

I find it amazing how the quality of products have deteriorated in the last few years. Most things seemed to have a designed obsolescence. A prime example is I have an old tube type TV that's nearly 25 years old. It's still a good tv, though not HighDef. I also own a large flat screen TV that's only 5 years old. It's starting to flicker and blackout at random times. Why else would a newer TV, made by a major manufacturer not last longer than a knockoff brand tv?

Computers and printers are the prime example of this too.
It's wrong I tell you.

D. Musgrave

Pat said...

Appliances of any sort have been a real bone of contention for me for a long time. Nothing you plug into an electrical outlet is designed to last more than a few years. My parents had the same toaster for 50 years, I buy a new toaster every 3 to 4 the same with my stove, refrigerator and dishwasher.
Now I know with 6 children in the house my appliances were used more than someone else, but still the life span of an appliance just isn't what it used to be. We're paying more for cars now than I paid for my first house and all they are is a piece of @#$%&. How will something we drive today ever survive to be a classic car when the paint peels off, the bumpers fall off, and the transmission has to be replaced once a year. LOL Throw away? They don't want anything at all to last, if it lasts you won't buy new and it's the new where they make their money. Just look at the new houses they are building today.No one takes pride in their craftsmanship anymore. There's no quality in the products they offer us.
Stepping down off soap box.

Shawna said...

Years ago a man in Virginia wanted to do landfill reclamatioon using inmates and paying a little over $1 an hour. Then the ACLU sued on behalf of the inmates claiming it was slave labor to pay so little. None of the inmates wanted the suit - they were thrilled to be making so much compared to the $.13 an hour they made making license plates. They sued the ACLU and LOST! So some 20 years on Virginia is whining about landfill reclamation but it's not feasible at this point. We're not only a disposable society but we lack forward thinking about what happens to everything we throw away. My mom is a gardner and I saw this neat indor composting machine for about $125 and she said it was too expensive but she'll pay $30 a bag from the store? I don't get it, I mean we're religious about recycling but she won't make her own compost, just another form of recycling.

Did you know there's a garbage patch in the Pacific the size of Texas? It's made of plastic, will take 250 years to deteriorate and when it does it will poison the area with PCBs, etc. How can people who go on and on about climate change not worry about the methane from landfills? How can they not be screaming about the garbage in the sea? This garbage is a result of our indifference to what buying new instead of fixing the old.

ErinT said...

I am guilty of doing that with the printer myself. I think I am on my 3rd one because it is cheaper to buy the whole printer than to just buy the ink. Not to mention how fast technology changes these days, it is like things are upgraded every few months in order to "keep up with the Joneses" for lack of a better term. I do however donate my old electronics to one of those places that recycles them so I don't feel as wasteful.

Kathy said...

Yes it is silly! I have the same issue that the ink costs more than the printer I bought. I have my own tax business and I can't run things out to a print place to have them printed. I can use up some ink in no time during tax season. I have an older printer that uses big ink cartridges I try to use it for most of the printing.I'm old enough to remember taking the coke bottles back to the store for the refund on the deposit. That was spending money. LOL way back in the 1960's
:-) I've never tried the refill route didn't want to chance messing something up.I ran to the library and made copies of my partial last year. I have to deal with cigarette smoke in the house. I used to smoke, quit in 2004 tyvm, but hubby still smokes like crazy and we never went outside to smoke. Wasn't a big deal when we were kids so it's a habit. Now my house is covered in nicotine and I would have to have everything printed elsewhere to send off to that special query/request land. I guess I could run to the store buy a fresh ream of paper go to inlaws take disc or flash drive and print it off over there.

Stephanie Bonnie said...

I said the same thing in walmart too. I was talking to this girl and got very upset that the printer i had was the same price as the ink re-fills.
try the kodak brand of printers the cartiges for both color and black are 23.00 about 10.00 each the printing is wonderful.

Paul McDermott said...

Prices of Printers vs Cartridges are broadly the same here in the UK. GRRRRRRRR!!!

Other items have to include something festering in EVERY landfill site, with a 'decomposition rate' of MINIMUM 30 years ....

Be honest, how many Disposable DRY CELL BATTERIES did YOU use in the last 12 months? And do you have any idea how long it will take for the Nickel, Lead, Cadmium, Lithium and even Mercury which these contain to seep into the subsoil and POISON the water supplies for your children and grandchildren to deal with?

There is a Swedish firm which has developed a method of recycling almost ANY dry cell battery. We should be shipping our disposables to Sweden for them to dispose of in an environmentally acceptable manner, and all do our bit to SAVE THE EARTH!!!!!!

Rant over - ooooooooooohh, that felt good!

Zetta Brown said...

You're right. It's too easy to throw something away rather than reuse or recycle.

Where I used to work, we had over a dozen printers and yours truly was assigned to maintain office supplies.

One of our main-use printers had to be replaced. It was a color laser printer and required 4 cartridges.

The cost of each cartride? £235...EACH.

And I mean pounds as in British Pound Sterling. Not US dollar.
Refilling the toner cost more than the d*mn printer itself! And when you consider cartridges last only so long...

Not to mention that we had to use the brand name and not the store brand toner of our contracted supplier...that's what killed the previous printer!

cynfulcharm said...

Did you know that when you buy the new printer the ink that comes with it is only 1/2 full.

Mary Preston said...

I totally agree with the rant. Nothing is worth repairing anymore because it costs a fortune & you can buy new for cheaper.

Beth said...

My computer(desktop)is about eight years old and my laptop is two years old. But we've been through six printers in that same amount of time. And I had a TV die a few years ago that had seen ten+ years of good use. The replacement set only lasted three years before it started having problems. But my washer and dryer and microwave have lasted 10+ years each and are still going strong(Knocks on Wood). Same with the furniture.
The only other thing we've replaced on a regular basis are the cell phones. It seems that every year they discontinue the older styles to force you to get the new ones because as soon as they stop making a style you can no longer get any of the accessories for it anymore either-like the chargers, cases, memory cards.

Pamela Fryer said...

CJ, I strongly advise you to write to the company and point them to your blog. Change will not come unless we speak up.

It does my heart good to see all these comments, though I have to admit a little piece of me dies inside when I'm reminded of the garbage pile floating off our coast.

I saw a documentary about battery recycling in Sweden. I wish we had that here. Right now we have to pay to dispose of them properly. No wonder nobody does! I think only Best Buy has a bin you can drop them in. In Sweden they have battery receptacles on street corners to make it convenient for their citizens.

Thanks for the rant. That is what's going to bring change.

Jude Mason said...

CJ, I could hate you for dragging this out. Manufactured obsolescence, that's what it's called. I don't know exactly when it became so freakin universal, but yes, it bothers the hell out of me.

Cars are built to last a certain number of years before they start breaking down. All your big appliances are too.

I remember a rototiller I had that was under warranty for a year. I swear, a week after the warranty was over, the freakin thing broke down and no one, not any mechanic I know could fix it, and I know a few of them.

Any part of your computer, or program/running system, is made to last only so long. I use Windows XP, I will have to change that when they make it impossible to update, in a year.

Built in quality has become a thing of the past. We've become a throw away society and I am ashamed to be human. We build things just so we can toss em out a few weeks down the road and get the bigger, better, much improved, yet equally as shoddy.


Going now.


Unknown said...

Count me in on this rant. I've gotten new printers instead of ink more than once. I it's not even worth it to get an extended warranty on anything under $200, you pay more in the long run than you would to buy a new one.


CJ England said...

WOW! I touched a nerve didn't I? I wasn't sure until now that I wasn't the only one who felt that way.


I've never heard the term "designed obsolescence", but it's perfect. TVs are just one of many items that make me crazy.


I agree. No one cares about quality anymore. It is a vicious circle.


The thought of a huge floating garbage pile out there makes me sick too. You can see the tide turning a little, but it will take a hell of a lot more than a few TV ads to make a difference.


What places recycle old electronics? Can you give us a few examples? I'd love to be able to do more than put them on the curb and wait for someone to come pick them up.


Having that problem in a business like yours sucks. I can see how difficult it would be. Maybe someday you can have a clean room. Where no one is allowed to smoke, just for that reason.


Thanks for the heads up about the Kodak brand. I'll check it out.

More in the next comment...

ErinT said...

My local YWCA takes unused electronics such as computers and cell phones and also my local college (University of Buffalo) has a collection every few months. All you have to do is load the stuff in your car and drive up to the drop off spot and they unload it for you and everything. Hope that helps

CJ England said...


Can you give us the name of the Swedish company? I'd love to find out more about it. For me, knowing the PTBs have a solution and refuse to use it is criminal.


235 pounds? Seriously? How long did they last? That's nuts!!! A really good reason to go paperless.


Really? 1/2 full? Wow! That explains a lot. I always wondered why that first one goes so damn fast. GRRRRR....


Yup. Why fix that pair of shoes when you can go to Wally World and get a brand new pair for a tenth of the price?


Sometimes I think the older the better. I know when my older appliances break down, I'll never find any to really replace them


Thanks for the heads up about Best Buy. We used to recycle batteries at Universal Studios, but I was never sure where they went after we collected them. Does anyone really know?


Isn't it the truth. Give me a classic car over a new one that I swear is made of wax.


I totally agree. We only get warranties on big stuff. Computers, cars, and we did get one on our BBQ. Wound up having to call them about once a month so it was money well spent. I don't think Sears likes us very much. LOL

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. I don't feel so alone anymore!

CJ England said...


Thanks for the info. I'll give my YMCA a call and see if they do the same thing!

Jennie Andrus said...

I vaguely recall something from history class about the great depression being caused in part by the fact that most of the families had bought all the new appliances that were coming out, and so factories had too much stock piled that nobody needed...thus people were losing jobs.

Not to justify the fact that most of what we buy is crap designed to last a year at most, just wondering if that's part of the thought process involved.

Cars are my biggest irritation. They seem to be designed to need huge repairs right at the time you would be finished paying off the financing. Then you have to consider, if you make those repairs, is it going to be one more thing after another until you finally say screw it? Would it be less trouble and money to just get new, even if you do have to get another car loan?

CJ England said...


That's why Jonathon and I only have classic cars. Which means cars over 25 years old. They are built to last and while you may need to repair them, it's not the same type of hassle as the new ones.

And if you choose a popular classic, it's easy to find parts.

Plus, I love my car! Haven't ever bought a new car and probably never will.


Booksrforever123 said...

try buying your cartridges here:
I get them at about 1/3 the price.

Amy said...

Office Depot sells 3 sizes of boxes that you can fill with unwanted used electronics, take the full box back to the store, and they will recycle every bit they can of it. Yes, it costs a few bucks, but if it gets recycled instead of dumped in a land fill, I figure it's worth it to me. I've purchased a couple of the boxes for old computers/peripherals that are so obsolete they aren't even accepting them at places that take that kind of stuff (though newer) for charitable contributions. Anyway, for more info about the Tech Recycling Program.

CJ England said...


Thanks for the heads up. I'll check it out!


CJ England said...


Okay, that sounds good. It's great to have an alternative to landfill, but why do you have to buy boxes? Why can't we just bring them in our own and recycle those too?

What am I missing?


Julie Robinson said...

It bugs me to no end. I am a 'waste not, want not' person. After 21 years, the DH is learning. And his job is computers. So he HAS to keep up with the latest technology. I think the next layer of earth will be all our throw away technology. That ought to be interesting for future archeologists! Will they think we were quaint or a highly advanced civilization?
Hmmm . . . .