In August 1955 the American magazine ‘Life’ published an
article entitled "Throwaway Living"- said by many to have led to the
term ‘throwaway society’ - a modern aspirational lifestyle based on
overconsumption and excessive consumerism.
Short lived or disposable items have hitherto become the
norm and few are interested in durability or buying products that will last.
The use of plastics has become widespread, and many components
are sealed for life, making repair impossible.
But all is not necessarily lost.
Anyone who has watched daytime TV (and in lockdown, who
hasn’t?) will have witnessed the trend for rescuing old and unloved items, before
repairing, polishing and generally ‘repurposing’ them.
That’s all well and good if you want a silly lamp that
used to be a wheelbarrow, but what’s wrong with looking after things in the
Sustainability is the new buzzword, especially in
horticulture; we are the curators of the future.
It makes a lot of financial and ecological sense to still
be using the same border fork, hoe or spade that you’ve had for years, rather
than wasting your time (and money) buying new ones.
Because unless you spend serious bucks, replacement tools
are unlikely to have been designed to last.
And even if you do find a good one, has it travelled
halfway across the planet?
The moral of this story is that we deserve the same kind
of reverence afforded to chefs, carpenters, engineers and other specialists;
they also work with their hands, and they take great pride in the tools of their
You don’t have to go to town with polishing,
sharpening or varnishing. Embrace the grubby handles, relish the rusty patina.
But show your tools a little love and they’ll be with you
for years to come.