It shouldn’t be trendy to be careless.
Many modern brands have trashed the art of craftsmanship. When you investigate fast fashion, mass-manufactured furniture, and cookie-cutter architecture, it’s obvious which businesses put care into their products, and which ones get away with cheap manufacturing.
Poor-quality products sell us promises of satisfaction but only deliver frustration. Manufacturers make a tidy profit by creating products with intentionally short life spans. The product only makes a brief appearance in your home on its way to the dump.
We want to start a new conversation. There are an increasing number of people that have started to see through the ruse of cheap products and quick profit. For these people, the process is as valuable as the product.
But it isn’t enough just to notice where production has sold itself cheap. We want to ask the question: how can I make choices that help change this incessant machine of cheap production?
Are there any real ways for us to enact this sea change?
Being Good Citizens
One of the best alternatives to cheap, mass production is reengaging the art of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship means quality in both design and work. It means made by hand. It subverts the store-to-landfill cycle of mass consumerism in a way that benefits both the artist and consumer.
In the era of 3D printers and fidget spinners, craftsmanship may seem antiquated. And of course, the technologies that have led to mass production are not inherently evil.
What many fail to realize, however, are the benefits of buying craftsman-made and how they can help us to be the people that we want to be. Craftsmanship promotes artisan empowerment, intentionally lasting production, and eco-friendliness.
From the point of view of the craftsman, it is the consumers who have the power to enact change. We have the power of the purse to invest in and preserve artistry. Not only is it for the benefit and wellbeing of the craftsman him/herself, it is vital to preserve the skills and knowledge of design and technique for the generations to follow us.
If these skills are lost for our children, the world will suffer this lack of skill and innovation. It is essential to preserve the artisanship that has been honed through the centuries to make quality, beautiful products that care for both the user and for the earth.
Intentionally Lasting Production
When a craftsman makes a product, it tends to last much longer than cheaply made products because it is made to last. The whole concept of fast fashion is that when the season ends, so ends the social acceptance of cheaply made products. These companies make fast cash by incentivizing their customers to continually return to the store because low quality has a short shelf life.
One word about design: craftsmen treat design with intentionality, creating styles that typically don’t go out of fashion. This allows people to use these products in season and out of season, knowing that the products are classic and timeless.
Building on this theme, with the increased life span of products comes less garbage. If your sunglasses don’t break after three months, you don’t have to throw them away. Craftsmanship subverts the cycle of always wanting the next best thing. It also minimizes the wasted materials in production as the artist seeks to use the all the materials in a responsible, non-wasteful way.
If we seek to be loving, conscientious, and mindful people on the inside, we should look at the way the products that we buy are manufactured. What we choose to buy reflects on who we are and the values we hold, both as individuals and as a society.
In the end, we should all move towards buying craftsman-made because these products benefit the artist, have a timeless and lasting life cycle, and allow materials to stay in use and out of the dump.
The difference starts here.