Sunday, 12 June 2011

‘Cheap’: The high cost of our discount culture

My parents still own the leather couch they bought when I was born 26 years ago. Today the idea of anything (an appliance, a piece of furniture or even a house) being built to last is almost laughable. When your vacuum cleaner stops working, you most likely haul it out and trek to Target to replace it. Even if you could find someone to repair it, the trouble and the cost would be unwarranted. If you need a bookcase, there's always IKEA: Sure, you'd prefer to buy a sturdily built hardwood version that doesn't buckle under the weight of actual books, but who has extra dough to spend on stuff like that? The IKEA bookcase is good enough, for now.

That cycle of consumption seems harmless enough, particularly since we live in a country where their are plenty of cheap goods to go around. But have you ever stopped to think what this disposable culture is doing to our environment? 

IKEA furniture or cheap furniture has no lasting meaning or value. They aren’t and aren’t intended to be heirloom pieces – so once we tire of them we simply throw them out and replace them. We have literally become a society that no longer expects or respects craftsmanship in everyday objects. In fact, the very idea of making something with care and expertise is destined to die.

Nevertheless, it’s a scary thought that IKEA is the third largest consumer of wood in the world – think of all the trees that are cut down in order to make a bookcase that is destined to become landfill in a couple of years time.

So my advice to you would be to invest in good quality, Australian made furniture. Ensure you spend the time to find pieces that you absolutely love and that were made to last. As an interior designer I see trends come and go every season, but don’t succumb to the temptation and ensure you find classic, timeless pieces. Pieces that you would never consider throwing away. 

The cost may be higher, but the price is right.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea IKEA was the 3rd largest consumer of wood. And, you're right. absolutely everything I've ever bought at IKEA ( even if I still liked the design) ended up getting tossed after a couple of years because it was falling apart. What a waste. Hopefully, when people need "cheap" these days, they start with sites like Craigs List for a gently used alternative. Great insight, Daniella.