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Archive for November, 2010

What do you think is the real importance of social media to the practice of public relations?

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Getting things to last

My wife’s email was short and to the point: “The ironing board broke. Can’t get anything to last anymore.”

Only thing is, we purchased that ironing board 40 years ago in the military PX in Kaiserslautern, Germany, in the first few months of our marriage.

She was, of course, being facetious. That ironing board lasted 40 years. You can’t say that for many things nowadays.

In fact, the replacement we purchased at Target lasted one week. It was so flimsy that it was dangerous to use. So, off we went on the great ironing board hunt. We are now trying one from Wal-Mart. We’ll see if this one wears out in the next 40 years.

My grandmother was fond of saying, “I might wear out, but I will never rust out.” The meaning was clear: she would keep on going until she couldn’t and never sit idle. One day, she did in fact wear out, but she was old and still living alone far out in the countryside making her own way.

A few of the things she used in her day-to-day life are now in my possession and still useful. These are simple items, sturdy, useful tools for daily living, such as a wooden bowl, a fern stand, some Blue Willow cups, a wicker furniture set, a zither, among other things.

But what of today’s hot products? Will they enjoy as long and useful a career? Time will tell.There is much emphasis on sustainability these days, and I fervently hope the idea catches on. Our disposable society has it limits, and I think we are fast approaching the saturation point.

My grandmother knew what sustainability was all about, even though she lived a sheltered life in a rural setting. “Make it do, or do without” was another of her expressions. She could fix anything. She could keep her simple, useful tools working for her year after year, decade after decade.

Now, we are surrounded with stuff. But how much of it has any real staying power? How much of it do we really need? Not very much, I’ll bet.

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