Disposable Business Model

There are two things that I hate: Junk and Paying for Junk.

My Canon Pixma MP520 only prints when all the toner cartridges have ink in them - even when I just want to print in black. So, I had to go buy toner at $20 each because my colour ones were empty. As a result I had to throw out 3 perfectly good cartridges because they were empty rather than refilling them. Well, I could have refilled them, but I don't have the gadget to reset the computer chips. So, the cartridges were Junk. A waste!

While shaving is not my favorite activity, I do shave. Usually. And over time I've moved from the Gillette Sensor Excel to the Gillette Mach 3 to the Gillette 5-Blade Fusion and then back to the Mach 3 because it's cheaper. Four cartridges cost $15 or $3.75 each. They are a blend of plastic and a few thin metal blades that last about 6 shaves. So for me to shave costs a fortune and I'm tossing out items that are not renewable.

It's clear that the business plan of both Canon (and other printer manufacturers) and Gillette (who hold a near monopoly on the shaving world) have created a dependence on their products and are cashing in on the replaceable items.

This was not always the case. In the shaving world for instance, there was a multitude of razor blade producers and a host of razor makers. This kept competition up and prices low. Plus the bulk of the money made was not on the disposable blades (which were just the double use blades, no cartridge), but the razor which would last a lifetime. The only place where I can purchase an old-style razor is an online specialty store (Rasage Poulin) as no pharmacies carry them (thanks to Alan for putting me on to this). I will do this. I also picked up an old straight razor at the Red Deer Farmer's Market a couple weeks ago. I need to sharpen it, but it promises to be a treat to shave with.

My printer cost me $100 - to switch out all the cartridges it costs $80. When this toner dies out, I'm buying a laser printer, a Lexmark that takes back your toner cartridge and promises 21,000 printouts per $400 cartridge (though a friend of mine can get them at $80 from a distributor). No waste. No unnecessary costs.

In closing, I think human kind would do better to move towards a less disposable consumer model. Thinking of all the preventable landfill contents (and use of natural resources) of diapers, cartridges, shampoo bottles, etc. saddens me. It also saddens me that we have moved away from high quality products for the sake of saving a few bucks in the short term. Even cars are disposable these days.

1 comment:

Dan the Man said...

Congratulations on getting one step closer to switching to a single-blade razor. If you have the flip kind like me, you'll need a strop as well to keep it honed, otherwise it starts to hurt if you don't keep it sharp - just like the disposables.