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Collin Dunn

Collin Dunn

Posted: July 25, 2008 12:55 AM

An Underrated Green Consideration: Longevity


There are tons of ways to embrace green these days; one of the often overlooked considerations is the longevity of our stuff. "Going green" or "being environmentally friendly" or any of the other common catchphrases for sustainable living is about much more than just ditching your old stuff for green new stuff.

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Consider the follow point made by London-based graphic designer Ben Terrett:

If you ask Porsche about their sustainability policy they will proudly tell you that 60% of all Porsches ever made are still on the road today. Think about that for a bit. Now you might think that a gas guzzling 4.8 litre car can never be environmentally friendly, but just think about that stat for a bit. What they're saying is that 60% of the stuff we've made is so desirable, so well put together, so well designed, that people are still using them.

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Imagine if 60% of other stuff was still in use. I don't know about you, but I'd be happy if 60% of the iPods I'd owned were still working. Imagine if 60% of carrier bags were still being used. Imagine if 60% of computers were still in use today. 60% of food packaging was still in use. Lewis Mumford, the historian said 'Why should we so gratuitously assume, as we constantly do, that the mere existence of a mechanism for manifolding or of mass production carries with it an obligation to use it to the fullest capacity?' Or why do constantly we make as much stuff as we can, rather than as much stuff as we need?

It's a point worth pondering: if you can have something, which may not be made with recycled/recyclable materials or some other common green credential, but it lasts 60% longer, or twice as long, as a comparable, conventional gadget, or car, that's green, baby. Recycling is great; buying green is great; but they both take energy and resources that can be saved by having something that will last a lifetime.

What do you think? What "Porsche's" do you have around the house? Leave 'em in the comments section below.

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More longevity reading over on TreeHugger
Old Faithful: Centennial Lightbulb
VW Diesel Lasts 562,000 Miles, Still Going
Eco-Tip: Choosing Green Clothing
Can't Buy Me Love (or a Long Life)