I’ve already written about how waste has conquered the world through the rise of Convenience (read All hail the Goddess Disposability!), particularly in light of electronic rubbish. But there’s a myriad of other gratuitous waste surpluses floating around the world.
Cars are just one of these. Remember watching the cars on the road about 15 years ago? You could pick the ‘rich’ people in town because they were the ones driving the few new cars, still shiny with the novelty of recent purchase. Everyone else was still driving around in the first and only car they ever bought new, 5, 10 or even 15 years ago. If it still started and stayed in one piece, there wasn’t really a reason to buy a new one.
Now, cars are designed specifically (yes, it’s true, I’m not being a cynic) to last only a few years. You are encouraged to buy a new car every 5 years (and you thought the sudden rise of perfect competition in new car extended warranties was just your lucky day!). The concept of dud car makes has become pretty much obsolete because EVERY make is built to run like a dream for the first few years.
Soon after your warranty expires, the car will gradually start falling apart and become too expensive to fix. And by then everyone else’s brand new cars have iPad holders, inbuilt solariums, massaging seats and a dashboard coffee machine…so it’s much more logical for you to just buy a new one than bother fixing your old one. The old car goes to the used car lot, but because it’s now classified as a piece of expensively unfixable crap, no one wants to buy it. And so it joins the global waste heap.
So I’m putting out the call for you all to start a new trend. Buy a used car (obviously not one of the aforementioned piece of crap ones) and fix it up. It will be cheaper in the long run, last longer than most new ones and probably stand up to smashes and dents better than the plastic and fibreglass bumpers getting around today. If you’re worried about being cool without the mod cons of a new car, bring back mix tapes and open windows and deal with it. Forget about carbon emissions—the emissions from an older model car will probably be less over time than the enormous carbon footprint stamped on the Earth from continuous high-demand new car manufacturing.
For those of you that preach total car boycott, that’s a wonderful idea if you can manage it (i.e. your work, play, health needs, food, friends and family are all within walking distance of your home). For the rest of us, don’t feel guilty. Many people need a car to get around for health, family or work reasons, or simply for independence. So when your car hits trade-in time and your green conscience starts nagging you, don’t boycott cars…boycott wastefulness and go to the used car yard instead.
© Manu Saunders 2010