Kate P wrote:
I was thinking in terms of the cost of housework, etc.
Have a read of Superwoman, by Shirley Conran.
She has a whole section on cleaning materials - the kinds our grandmothers used - that cost a fraction of the snazzy, expensive ones today. And a mind-boggling section on laundry. It was written at a time when washing machines were coming on stream, at a time when the domestic workload was multiples of what it is now.
Ok, have to somewhat agree with you there. There's a lot to be said for baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice, and if people were a bit more chemically literate they'd save themselves some money. On the other hand there is genuinely useful stuff that wasn't around in our grandmothers' day. Isopropyl alcohol impregnated non-lint wipes for one thing. Useful for everything from toilet seats to computer screens, and they just go in the trash when you're finished. Granny never had those. Don't know about you but our house no longer has a cupboard full of cloth rags made from ripped up clothes after their fifth time being "handed down". I wouldn't want to go back to that either. Some parts of the disposable lifestyle are much more convenient. The trick is to know what's useful and what's a gimmick. In this regard, advertising is the great enemy.
Kate P wrote:
While appliances are cheaper, there's not mending. We spend more on machines that don't last as long, because obsolesence (sp?) is built-in. It's harder to get your car serviced outside a dealership, because the technology means only certain mechanics can fix electronic faults. And the repair industry is virtually non-existent. Recycling centres are full of functioning, out-of-fashion stereos (can I use that word anymore?), desktops, TVs. Phones are upgraded. TVs are replaced... It's a costly way of living.
This I disagree with. Things are way
more reliable than ever before. I am talking about cost of ownership in inflation-adjusted euros per hour of reliable use. We threw out our forty year old fridge not too long ago. It was German made and very robust, God bless it. The new fridge is a lot less solid feeling -- basically a large plastic and cardboard box. But it's much
bigger, cheaper, incredibly
more energy efficient, and more eco-friendly in terms of refrigerant gases as well.
Entertainment appliances offer much more choice these days. For a while there were really expensive gadgets like LCD and plasma TVs, before the technology matured. Now they're cheaper than CRTs used to be for the same size but vastly better. If you want, you can still pay more if you want a giant screen format, 3D, higher refresh rates, internet connectivity, 6-channel sound, digital music, photo and movie playing capability, and so on. The amount of choice is stunning. Again, it's about being sensible and knowing what you need.
Kate P wrote:
Disposable clothes are cheap, there's no doubt about that. But you get a season out of them, a year at most and then they have to be dumped - not donated - because they're unusable. Now maybe it's true that people have far more clothes/items than they might have in the past. High St clothes are expensive and not great quality. Principles used to be good. Warehouse, River Island, Next - all charge well for 'cheap' clothes, Dorothy Perkins (particularly), Penneys (even more particularly) and Dunnes sell generally very poor quality clothing.
I don't know why the quality of clothing is so bad in this part of the world. My practice for the last couple of decades has been to take empty suitcases to the states every couple of years, and buy armfuls of inexpensive, decent quality clothes. They used to be all made in Mexico, but they're more likely to be Indian these days. At any rate, the cloth tends to have a bit more heft than here, and quality and durability is generally much better. (I'm not a New York shopping weekend kind of person, and admit to being pretty much fashion unconscious). Anyway, my point is that it's more than possible to get decent, cheap clothes, although we seem to be a bit shortchanged in Ireland.