Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Heirloom Design"

An article was recommended to me by GGG. It was written by a fellow kayaker Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, and references a phrase "heirloom design" - coined by 2007 MacArthur Fellow Saul Griffith. He states that making products durable, repairable and upgradable lowers the quantity of energy required in making and distributing products.

The author of the article makes great points about consumerism, quality, trends, the global economy, history, keeping jobs local, the environment, food, and much more.

I remember growing up there was a shop in town where you could get your tv and radio fixed. Fixed! How novel. Also, Mr. Mauer would come to the house if he was needed to repair the washer. My mom and I frequently joke about coffee-makers - which brand to buy, which will last? How do you find that balance point where the cash you dish out for the new appliance will get you an adequate amount of satisfaction - as measured by time. As a society, we are forced into situations similar to buying the $20 coffee maker and fully expecting to trash it in 6-8 months. And we usually do.

I say enough!! I know lots of people including most in our family, plus several friends - who gets tons of satisfaction at the junk and thrift stores, repurposing things, making something out of nothing. Making "hand made"!

I'll be looking at Louie's (junk place) for a percolator coffee pot when our drip model gives out. I don't need my coffee maker to start itself, tell me the time, anticipate the kind of grounds I use, give me a weather forecast, or channel MPR.

I just need coffee.

Read the article - it's well worth your time.

By the way, I read an inspiring article about a local businesswoman who has started a Twin Cities affiliate of Dress for Success - nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged women "in work and life". A great place to donate work clothes no longer needed.


  1. Oh how I agree Kathy. I am using a Black and Decker Coffeematic the I bought at a yard sale for sure 7yrs ago and it is still performing it's task beautifully. In fact, I don't think I have ever purchased a new coffee maker. And if this one should fail I have on hand a glass Pyrex coffee pot intended for the the stovetop that I care for as if it were a baby.
    While we're at it let's talk about laundry soap or rather homemade laundry soap. I've been making my own for almost a year now. It's about as routine as recycling.

  2. Excellent post and great article! I agree...Anne

  3. I just bought a new coffe maker as well. The old one that I had was about 2 years old max. It started making hissing noises, kind of like a volcano erupting. I am constantly grinding coffee to fine and it just couldn't get the water through the grounds(silt)in my case. I now have another $20 Mr.Coffee. Tess

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