I recently offered to help a friend remove some duckweed from her dam. During our discussions, I recommended using a dinghy to get onto the water to rake up the weed and physically remove it, rather than using sprays or hiring a small harvester.
My friend does not own a dinghy, and so the question was raised where she might source one. Surprisingly, a “hippy” friend of ours proclaimed with much enthusiasm that she had recently seen a brand new $20 dinghy at a nearby discount department store. It was made of PVC, came with plastic oars, and would be an easy and cheap solution.
I was mortified. “We don’t need to buy a dinghy,” I said. “And we certainly don’t need to buy a piece of cheap junk that will only be used once and probably won’t even float!”
My friends stared at me, somewhat aghast at my indignation. “I was only trying to help”, my hippy mate said. “Sure,” I replied, “But cheap is not always good, my friend. Surely it’s better to buy quality second-hand than buy cheap and nasty.”
My friend frowned, “I didn’t think of it as cheap and nasty.”
“For twenty bucks, mate, you can be certain the thing they’re calling a dinghy won’t last. And because it’s made of PVC, it’s production let alone existence will have generated nasty ecological impacts and possibly infringed on human rights as well.”
Again, they stared at me. “Why do you even need to buy a dinghy?” I asked my friend with the duckweed problem. “Do you plan to paddle back and forth across the pond every day?”
“I don’t think I’d use the dinghy very often,” she replied. “I’m only thinking of it now because you said we might need one to remove the duckweed.”
And so the conversation turned to how best to meet consumer needs without being a consumer, what to do when you need to use something that you’re only going to use once, or every now and then.
“I reckon you can manifest a perfectly good dinghy from someone within the local community,” I said. “There are plenty of generous people who would gladly lend you their dinghy, especially if they knew it was being put to a good cause…like weed removal.”
Before long, we’d identified more than half a dozen people who might be willing to loan us the small boat.
A few days later, just this morning in fact, I learned that a kind soul from the hinterland had said “No problem, too easy”, and is lending their tin vessel for us to use next weekend.
Thank goodness for that. No more talk of cheap nasty rubbish. And no-one has to set foot in one of those awful discount stores to buy a cheap little boat that probably wouldn’t even float!
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