week 21

“The reason that the rich were so rich…was because they managed to spend less money. Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots,…cost about ten dollars. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

-Terry Practchett, ‘Men at Arms’

After my ebay spree, I’ve been thinking a lot about my need for a checklist when I’m acquiring. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

>When choosing , be really clear and honest with yourself why you want it, and what you want it for. If you don’t have a good reason, don’t get it. If you do have a good reason, make sure the thing you choose suits the task you have in mind. Be patient; if you can’t find the right thing straight away, don’t get something that will do in the meantime,

> Understand how it works, how it’s made and how to care for it. Find out what constitutes quality in that class of thing, and what’s best going to meet your needs.

>Get the highest quality reasonable. By “highest quality” I mean staying power. You’ll replace it less often, which will save resources. I would add to Sam Vimes’ boot theory, above, that the ten-dollar boots use the same amount of raw materials as the fifty-dollar pair.

>Give preference to self-serviceable, rechargeable, and mechanical (as opposed to electronic) items. Look for technology appropriate to you.

Well, it’s a start.

In other news, some friends came over and built me an amazing composting toilet, which will be filled with poo to eventually go on the fruit trees at home. It’s nice to be leaving something behind I probably won’t benefit from directly, and I’m also aware of the huge amount of water used with every flush. Filling a cistern with buckets really brings it home.

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