Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The three "R"s are pretty easy to remember. But there's something else that often gets left out of the conversation that is at least equally important: Durability.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately because of a brush I bought to groom our cats. It was inexpensive, made of plastic, and purchased without much thought, because we needed something to combat the fur (Charlie is a hair shedding machine). Anyway -- the brush is a piece of trash. It just doesn't work very well.
In my frustration, I've also been thinking about my mom's curry comb. It's a brush my mother used to groom her horses with when she was a child, and it's been an enduring fixture in my life. Every dog and cat my parents have ever owned have been brushed with that curry comb. It's metal with a red wooden handle. The paint on the handle is a bit worn but it works so well and it has lasted so long.
My mom also has a large cast iron pot -- she uses it for stews and roasts -- that was given to her mother from a neighbor over 50 years ago. When she's not using it, it sits on the fireplace. It makes me ashamed of my scratched, non-stick pots ... their handles are loose and I bought them on sale only a few years ago. I hope to replace them soon.
Durability is such a key factor in reducing waste. If only every pet owner had a curry comb like my mother's (they probably don't sell them anymore), there would be no market for cheap, plastic, inferior versions of the same thing. Although plastic isn't always the culprit -- my mom also has really ancient Tupperware!
Sometimes we pick the less durable option because it is also less expensive, not realizing that in the long run, it will cost us (and the earth) so much more.
So this is my little promise to myself: No more cheap, non-durable anything.
Do your parents (or you) have things that have lasted generations? What are they?
cast iron kettle photo via jurek d.; flickr.com