The art of Kintsugi is probably the most beautiful way to practice elongescence Photo: Atelier1250
A few days ago I came across a term i Spanish that I had never heard before. Alargascencia or, what in English would probably be called elongescence*.
Elongescence reclaims the need to make products last longer than what they are programmed to last by repairing, reusing, exchanging or buying second hand. It is a social movement, more than an industrial standard, of course, and it stems from the weariness of some people towards overconsumption and product obsolescence.
But, what is "product obsolescence"? This term "refers to the time and state in which a piece of technology or product ceases to be useful, productive or compatible"(technopedia.com). As Tim Cooper notes in his book Longer Lasting Products: Alternatives to the Throwaway Society, it originated in the 1930's when "...the manipulation of product obsolescence was seen as a means to revitalize an ailing economy. The aim was to encourage new product ideas, remove any potential for economic stagnation and enable workers to earn money to buy products".
It is also important to note that product obsolescence can be pre-defined. When that is done, the product has a "programmed obsolescence", which actually means that it is going to stop working/being useful (or trendy or meet regulations) at a pre-set time in its life, and that you will have to decide whether to throw it away or repair/repurpose/update it.
For most people the answer is easy: Throw away/discard and buy a new one. Companies and our economies in general favor this behavior by hindering possible means to revitalize it ( difficult access to spare parts, product not designed to allow repair/repurpose/update, no specialized repairmen or repurpose instructions...) and by promoting new purchases (bring your old item and get a discount).
So, why would we want to repair and choose to lengthen the life of our product instead of getting a brand new one? Who does it benefit? Why should we care? By choosing elongescence we are:
I invite you to think about elongescence next time something at home breaks or becomes out of fashion. Think out ways to fix it, how it can still be of service to you, how you can make it last a bit longer or make it be trendy again. Use your brain, your hands, ask for your loved one's help and opinion, share your time with them... or see who can help you in your community, promote local businesses, be curious, challenge their skills! And once that something is fixed, enjoy it and feel proud of your contribution to your family, your household, your community, your wallet! And to our planet.
* I searched the Internet to see if I could find a direct translation of the term "alargascencia" in English but couldn't find it anywhere. If you know if this word has been coined differently in English, please let me know:)