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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mini Rant #2- Disposable society

Jules here-

Since my son was diagnosed with a severe dust-mite allergy in September, my laundry load has doubled.  The already arduous task of changing his sheets one time a week became a daily event (o.k... usually every OTHER day.... though I do try to do his pillow case every night).  The allergist recommended washing his mattress, dresser, and flat surfaces down every night along with the fresh linen. Along with the four other people-who-live-in-my-house's laundry, my washing machine gets an awesome work-out (not as much as Em's washer... but a lot.)

And then it started knocking two weeks ago--as if the little cleaning gnome inside started banging on the door yelling, "Hey! I'm done! No more! I can't take cleaning one more filthy pair of pants! I'm holding half of your socks hostage--- haven't you noticed?!?!"  It grew louder and louder every spin cycle until the children were too terrified to use the bathroom while the washing machine was running.

Finally, it died on Sunday--before the weekly "change-all-the-house-linens" load. It puttered and made one last loud bang, and stopped spinning.  Now, we inherited the washer/dryer from the previous owners, so they are about 10 years old, but we've never had problems before. I made a list of the Better Business Bureau appliance repair A+ companies, and set to work calling them.

This is how the first conversation went:

"Hi, Appliance Repair, here, how can I help you?"

"Hi, my washing machine stopped spinning and I was wondering how much it cost for a guy to come out here?"
"It's $92." she replied.
"For the repair?!" I sputtered.
"For the first 1/2 hour." she answered.
1/2 hour? Who the heck (besides neurosurgeons) makes $92 for a 1/2 hour of no-guarantee-of-fixing.
"After that, it's only $22 for each additional 1/2 hour." she added.
"Um, I'll call you back." I said.

So finally with the help of the internet and a "first time customer" coupon. I was able to obtain a $59 repair deal at another appliance shop.

Upon arrival, the man spent literally 45 seconds in my laundry room and said, "The [thing-a-ma-bob] {I'm paraphrasing because I have no actual memory of the term he used} is broken. It costs $600 for the part and that's not including the 2 hours of installation.  You should have called me last week when it started the banging sound."

Chagrined, I said, "Oh, would you have been able to fix it then?" (Secretly thinking, my husband is going to kill me if he finds out that my delaying this would have saved us....)

He laughed and said, "No, but at least you would have had a head start on buying a new washer."

So there you go-- $59 later and no washing machine (at least it's not $92).

Since moving to New Hampshire, I have become somewhat of a conservative-hippie. I definitely recycle, reuse, and re-purpose as many items as I can.  I pride myself on using only 1-2 trash bags a week while recycling everything else.  Now, I may be an environmentalist partly because I am a cheapskate--for example, it's much cheaper to use towels rather than paper towels; I make my own cleaners and laundry detergent, etc.

BUT what drives me ballistic is the disposable society that we have created and no one seems to care. For example, environmentalists demand that we use reusable grocery bags, but somehow no one comments on how shoddily made modern appliances/electronics are. Which takes up more space in a landfill my washing machine or a thousand plastic bags?!?  With the costs of repairs, you HAVE to dispose of the item ; it's not cost-effective to get things fixed. I've thrown out an oven, a grill, a crock-pot, 2 toaster ovens, one microwave, 2 hair dryers, at least 2 curling irons, 2 televisions, a DVD player, an iron, 2 vacuum cleaners, 2 dishwashers, a refrigerator and a boiler SINCE I HAVE GOTTEN MARRIED.  I think my parents had the same refrigerator for all 20 years I lived in my house.

Appliances seem to be made to break--- and we keep buying and trashing them.  Will I keep doing the same? Of course-- I can't afford to spend $1000 to fix a washing machine that is only worth $500... and I can buy a brand new one for $600 or less.   I just think we need to figure out how to either make things last a bit longer, or make the parts/repair a bit cheaper....

Easy Rule #3501  When life hands you lemons, squeeze them and make a fantastic cleaner that is environmentally friendly and much more affordable :)

Easy Rule #4002  Be grateful to kind neighbors who will help you in times of need. (Thanks Don & Lisa for the use of the washing machine-- my children will look much better in clean clothes!)

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