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Six-decade-old toaster thrives with timely repairs

By Daniel Hiestand

Lane County Waste Reduction Outreach Coordinator

We've all heard the expression: "They don't make them like they used to."

Well, there is a great deal of truth to that concept. It's called planned obsolescence, or "the idea that products are designed to break." Like many complicated concepts, planned obsolescence is not all "bad." As an example, in our current economic system, the more things break, the more companies have to make things. And the more they have to make, the more jobs people have, etc.

However, most evidence on the environmental sustainability front shows that planned obsolescence is not a sustainable activity (financially and environmentally) for both companies and consumers, and enhanced economic model alternatives are being developed, such as the circular economy.

Whenever I think about these concepts, my mind often reflects on a 61-year-old toaster that not only functions, it looks brand-spanking new. This particular toaster was a wedding present given to my parents in 1962, approximately 13 years before I was even on the planet. Over the years, my dad has had to make a few adjustments (primarily to the heating coils and a few wires), but he has not replaced a single part.

And that toaster still works wonderfully. I recently visited my parents and had a delicious, perfectly toasted slice of wheat bread professionally prepared by my dad and my daughter. Fast forward from 1962 to the late 2000s (when I was married), and many of the appliances I received for my wedding have already broken down. Perhaps more infuriatingly, there was no great way to repair them. I'm sure many of you have similar stories to share.

Let us know if you have household items that have stood the test of time. How have you kept them running? Do you think they make things like they used to? Please share with us at 


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