Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Considered Consumerism

I have long been a fan of Panasonic's linear motor drive waterproof shaver range.

They give you an excellent shave,  plus being waterproof you can not only use it in the shower, or use it with shaving cream, but clean it daily under the tap.

I reviewed it in detail here

Unfortunately the ES-LF71 model comes with a fancy charging and cleaning station which utilises specialist WES035 cleaning cartridges. Clearly I could not find these in Switzerland so an eBay purchase and wait later they arrived.

They were expensive, but of course work fine.

If you follow Panasonic's logic you can get a great shave, then when your shave is dirty you can pop it into the dock where it can be cleaned, and then dried.   The whole process takes over 30 minutes.

But when I step back the process can be seen in a more sinister light

  • The cartridges are expensive.  Over 15GBP (i.e. >20 CHF USD) for 2.
  • At that cost I can imagine the shave costing me >1 US Dollar per week, just in cartridges.  That's a wonderful revenue stream to you Panasonic!
  • They are custom plastic, and not recyclable

  • I begin to cringe when I think of the materials used to make the dock, and the materials used to make the cartridges.   I can just put the shaver under the tap instead!

In my case the shaver was on special offer, and this was the only Panasonic model I could find with a Power switch, useful so it does not turn itself on whilst you are travelling (causing both a potential problem at an airport, plus a dead discharged shaver at your destination, where you did not bring the charger since you were travelling).

ALL of this rant is just a metaphor or an exemplar for Considered Consumerism

  • By all means buy something that does its primary job well
  • But watch out for running costs
  • And  special parts which are unnecessary and environmentally wasteful
  • Start with the small items and move up to larger wastes

When these cartridges run out,  I plan to go back to water only washing.

Peter Singer on Altruism