COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
The way manufacturers spill out the market with perishable consumer items it is no wonder that our surroundings have accumulated such vast collection of waste. In due time, the earth will simply become a big pile of garbage.
An ordinary umbrella that used to serve you for a few years now only serves you for a few months. It’s not even made of plastic. But the very thin sheet of tin in that simplified frame easily cracks with daily use on rainy days. Even with the still good cover, your option is to throw the barely used umbrella since the cost of labor for fixing it is half the price of a new one. Besides, a soldered umbrella won’t take you far especially if the frame is literally weak. As a consequence, you buy at least once or twice a year for each kid who goes to school.
Another perishable item that is of practical use is the alarm clock. Even without exposure to the rain or sun and suffers only a little handling, still it would cease to function anytime without notice. You’re not even given the chance to change batteries. The few ones I dismantled in order to check their defects, I acquired a collection of gears made of plastic. At least one alarm clock had only its hands and dial thrown to the garbage. The outer design made for a good picture frame.
But what really alarmed me was the new machine installed in my old wall clock. A wall clock I got in 1985 stopped running after fourteen years. When I had it checked, moisture had seeped inside the machine causing the parts to rust so it needed replacement. However, the new machine suddenly ceased to function after six months. A black ant got inside, died, and simply stopped the whole mechanism. What I cannot understand is that why no black ant got inside the old machine in fourteen years. So for the better of me, I salvaged a broken wall clock from my sister and had its seven-year old machine installed in my old clock.
What I’ve mentioned are only the smaller items, but the bulkier ones are the electric fans and other small household appliance. Give them three years at most. Even the major appliances are lining up for instant garbage. Gone are the days when refrigerators would last for fifteen or more years. So are the gas ranges where the tubes and pipes were made of hard metal.
But the notably perishable ones are the electronic items. You stop using one for a day and it will stop forever. They’re so sensitive to the touch, outside temperature, and fluctuating electric current. They also have to be used regularly. From toys to housing and office equipment they make up a great bulk of our accumulated garbage.
In a simple household, the acquisition of these short lived items contributes to the oversupply of waste. In the same manner the cycle keeps one at the subsistence level. You will only realize that after forty years of hard work and low pay, what you have acquired for your household is a stove, a flat iron, a ref and a TV set, a music player and electric fans that have all been replaced many times over in your earning capacity years.
Modern life indeed has much to offer, most apparently of which is instant garbage.