Thursday, April 22, 2010

my Earth Day message to the Earth

Well, today is Earth Day. What does that mean? I asked my neighbour Diana as we returned back homewards from our morning walk to Bay Street. Are we supposed to do something kind for the Earth today? Be less wasteful?

Shortly after I got back home the washing machine repairman came by. My front loading washing machine, not quite 5 years old, has been making a loud sound for the last few weeks.

"Bad news," he said, as he came up the basement stairs with his toolbox. "You may as well buy a new washing machine." He then listed the major problems with it (more than one), the price to repair (almost the same as buying a new machine) and ended by saying, "they don't make appliances like they use to."

"Do the front loading machines generally have more problems than the top loaders?" I asked. "Should I go back to using a top loader? Will it last longer than a front loader?"

He said that for the front loader, if the soap is too sudsy it ruins the washer, rusting things out. He said he has a top loader. I said, I bought a front loader because I read they use less water, but if they are not going to last very long...what is the point?

He said again "It won't really make a difference which one you buy as they don't make appliances to last any more."

Now, my last washing machine died the month after its 5 yr warranty ran out. That was a top loading machine. The repairman then told me that a slow leak had formed just above the transmission and a steady drip of water over the months (unnoticed) had ruined the transmission. May as well buy a new one, he told me.

That time, the guys who came to pick up my broken washer, went down the basement stairs and then came right back up and said, we can't find it. Where's the old washer?

I said, The old washer? It's the one that looks brand new. That's the one to bring to the dump.

So, on Earth Day today, I send another brand new looking appliance to the dump. What sort of madness is this? How many appliances like mine are at the dump? Where are the regulations that would force corporations to make appliances that last!? Meanwhile, we are supposed to recycle tins and bottles and paper and reduce our use of water and electricity, yet corporations can continue to make disposable household appliances?

Happy Earth Day, Earth. You have no hope as long as capitalism rules.

Someone threw this old wringer washer on the side of the road by the lake. I saw it in the ditch one morning when I was walking the dogs. I guess someone drove by and tossed it.


marja-leena said...

"no hope as long as capitalism rules" - sure seems that way!! We've been thinking of replacing our 20 year old fridge, never a problem, but an energy consumer. Same as the washer and dryer. Now I wonder...

Merche Pallarés said...

How true! Appliances, nowadays, last just till the warranty expires whereas before they lasted for years and years but, that's capitalism! They have to make more and more money by forcing consumers to buy new appliances every few years--just when the warranty runs out. This "earth" needs a universal citizen-mega-protest!! Hugs, M.

Bonnie said...

I totally agree. What even makes me crazier is companies that push you to dispose of things that still work, like telephones, in order to get newer ones with more bells and whistles. I hate those commercials where people smash their perfectly good cells with a baseball bat or throw them in the lake. And just try to renew a cell contract WITHOUT getting a new phone in this town. EVERYTHING is temporary and disposable now.

Ari said...

Now you have just one possibility left to help Mother Earth. You have to go back to hand-washing time like our mothers had to do when they were young. ( If you are the chief of your family you can force your husband to do so.)

northshorewoman said...

ML, I think keeping older appliances may actually be more environmentally sound, even if they use more energy. In the end, if new appliances are garbage after 5 years or so, that is a terrible waste of energy; I would think bigger, especially if you don't even use the machines that much!

MP and Bonnie, I was thinking, shouldn't there be some responsibility for corporations for the end-life of all their products? Should the corporations who made this stuff they keep making us want to buy, whether for convenience or for coolness, be responsible to take it away when we are finished with it/or it dies on us?

What if corporations had to be responsible to pick up everyone's "old" washing machine, fridge, all the digital technologies, etc? Why are we saddled with the disposal? Why shouldn't they be responsible? Maybe they would make less than. Seriously, we need to enact some policies about this.

As I spend at least one hour every other Friday morning gathering up the recyclables from my basement (where I collect them for 2 weeks), I think, why am I doing this work that didn't even exist before? Why all this PACKAGING!

Bonnie, I haven't seen those commercials but I will look for them. Do you remember which companies were advertising them? This sounds outrageous. Actually encouraging people's wastefulness--as the earth burns.

Ari, yes, maybe we need to think of doing laundry differently. In North America our clothes closets and cupboards are stuffed with clothes and we have an endless job maintaining them and keeping them clean. If we had scrub boards we'd certainly have less clothes and we'd wash less times.

Merche Pallarés said...

Not a bad idea, forcing companies to take back their broken objects. Hugs, M.