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Expensive or Inexpensive?



Our local environmentally friendly interior design store is going out of business.  Three people have responded to me and said, “Oh, they are just too expensive, particularly in these days.”   This is always, without fail, accompanied with that little “know it all” smile;   I know you know the one.

After 35 years of being with an environmentally GREEN architectural firm, I can tell you without a doubt this is not true.   It is the local, little guy who is doing the green work that is too expensive for us to lose.

We are replacing our 20 years old professional range, which has no replaceable/fixable parts available any more.  We have taken 3 months to work out all the details, to find a truly energy efficient, fuel efficient range, with replaceable/fixable parts and will last over 15 years.  It took a great deal of research and only one brief visit to a big box store to know we would not be purchasing anything that they have to offer.

Yes, they appear to be cheaper and they are all standard sized.  But not one of them has good enough energy efficiency ratings for our house.   They pollute the inside environment at unhealthy levels when is use even with their star ratings.   Every 5 years the company stops making replaceable/fixable parts – one would need to purchase a whole new range about every 7 years.   And we do just that and expect that to be the way.

“No one fixes these things anymore!”

One of the nicest parts of IT Girl’s apartment is her 1947 O’Keefe and Merritt Gas range.  Still working with amazing efficiency – people are hunting for these workhorses all the time they are so good.

A local small appliance retailer has been working with us for the past 3 months.  He assisted us in finding the range that we eventually chose and which met our standards and goals.  This range will not be in a landfill or appliance recycling center within 7 years and we will not be living with parts of a range that do not function properly.  It was not made in China from materials we shipped there.  We have found 5 local construction workers who know how to work with an environmentally friendly home.  Each has found a way to create greener standards for their own homes. We all have done our research and our homework.

These local people form a network and they are willing to come back until everything is working right.  These are all people who are dedicated to making the environment healthy and being wise in how they spend their money.  We will continue to share our knowledge and expertise, because we not only want to get the best deal, we want to keep our world healthy and friendly for those next generations.  When stores go under which are dedicated to helping us do the research and stay healthy – this is a tremendous loss to a community.  It can cost us all.

In the process, we have found a company just 60 miles away that recycles materials into the most efficient, beautiful, useful kitchen countertop material we have ever seen – and their factory employs a large number of people and it meets our environmental standards.   Now I know it is not a slab of Brazilian granite, polished and formed in India and then shipped here to be installed – and yet it has a healthier lifespan and tremendous beauty.

In most cases, I think we will pay more upfront for the product, and if we add in the health and environmental cost then I think that choice will prove to be the more cost effective.

None of the individuals who judged us about our purchases from our local store had ever been inside the store, it just looked too expensive.

I think we need to change our thinking and not be so thoughtless.

Have you experienced having to make long term decisions on a budget and yet still getting exactly what you want?   Do you know the health risks of your appliances?  How deep do you dive when researching for something needed?

If you enjoyed reading here, you might also enjoy reading at The Biking Architect or Wise Ears.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or from Powell’s, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Related Reading:
Walking the Green
Oven Dies – Don’t you Just Hate That?
Living Building Challenge
The End of Overeating

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13 Responses to “Expensive or Inexpensive?”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I know cheap is definitely not best .. good for you doing all the research for your replacements .. we should as you say be going back to the good old days, when everything was reused somehow – or kept in case …

    Now there are opportunities to recycle and recraft ‘useless’ items .. even so far as rag rugs .. which people do here.

    Thanks – we do need to think before we do anything .. do we need it, can we last out, is it the most suitable for these times, can we reuse it elsewhere ..

    Great post – thank you .. cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..Pop Songs of Fragrance and Symphonies of Perfume …My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    We still make rag rugs here and recycle many things…but the majority of folks still discard and buy new, and are being pumped up to do just that…disposable appliance are huge market now…
    cooking ranges are only expected to work for 7 years…

    I try to live my values on a daily basis…but mostly seem alone.

    3 months without a range has been a challenge…but we are doing it.
    Thanks for your support

  2. Vered | Blogger for Hire Says:

    I have never given any thought to the health risks of my appliances! Thanks for pointing this out – will do some research later today.
    Vered | Blogger for Hire recently posted..GratefulMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Years ago I learned how dangerous the outgasing from toasters and dryers were….and that put me on the alert…
    The Architects in Hawaii have really addressed this problem, right down to no new apartments can be built without solar hot water heaters.

    Hawaii only has about 13 days of food and oil on the islands at any time…they are now encouraging gardening again and going to use wave power for energy…

    I am amazed by what we can bring into our own households that can not be used in schools, hospitals or any public buildings…lots of our toxic materials go into our homes…and laundry products.

  3. Talon Says:

    You’re right, Patricia. It does take time to do the research and source out green materials, but it’s so worth it. It’s amazing the products that are being produced that really minimize the impact on the environment – both during manufacture and while residing in our homes. Sometimes the cost is more upfront, but the long range benefits sooo outweigh that!

    I watched a report on “energy star” ratings that said that a lot of the ratings are given by the actual manufacturers and not by independent studies. More food for thought… Again, research is really key.
    Talon recently posted..Dumb LuckMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    I learned years ago that the energy star rating was an advertising ploy….latter they had to set a few standards to meet individual State and Provincial requirements…but they are very minimal.

    The new washers do not clean, so folks are making more and more money off extra products one needs to get the clothing clean….anything to make money

    Research is key…and the questions one is asking too…like not only energy efficient, but environmentally okay and who is on my payroll creating this product – what are their values.

  4. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! I kind of giggled – to change our thinking hmmmm, that is making the assumption that there is some thinking going on in the first place! :) From what I observe, seems like there is much in the way of unconsciousness – buying “whatever” to just have what is wanted/needed at the moment, and sadly, not a thinking about much beyond that.

    I love how you took the time, did the research and are getting exactly what is the right thing for you. It’s all too easy to just go to those big box stores – and you will return in no time for replacements, you’re sure right about that!


    Patricia Reply:

    As a person who taught thinking skills for years and years on the college level, I have found Suzen that to suggest someone is unthinking is worse than any other swear word on the planet…

    …this is true whether it is shopping or politics…and especially when it comes to parenting… everyone believes they are the exception…just like everyone secretly believes they are part of the 1% – or will be any day now :)

    I am laughing with you

  5. Geek Girl Sf Says:

    All – We have had some reports that folks are having problems leaving comments. I have not been able to reproduce the problem in order to troubleshoot what is going wrong. If you encounter problems, can you please send a screen shot to patricia [at] patriciaswisdom.com. Thanks Much!

  6. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – I love this GREEN post!

    My husband and I are always willing to pay more for something that is earth friendly, organic, and/or can be recycled.

    patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie,
    and thank you for letting me know about the problem and returning to comment

  7. Galen Pearl Says:

    I have made that mistake myself of going for cheap when I should have gone for quality. I hope I’ve learned my lesson!

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi Galen,
    I think it is not just quality that I am going for but more GREEN and community building…

    We now have 6 wonderful local people on our payroll and a beautiful piece of equipment ….

    I want to be part of the people who are taking action to make the world a better place.
    Patricia recently posted..So Far Away By ~Christine W. HartmannMy Profile