No quick fixes for throwaway mentality
A friend recently went to buy a replacement remote control for their DVD player. It was going to cost €40. Then she was offered a new DVD player complete, obviously, with its own new remote, for the same price.
We live in a throwaway society. But we are just doing what makes economic sense. A trailer and a tractor for the same price as the trailer on its own?
So I was interested to see that the Swedish government - these Northern European places always seem to the ones to come up with the devastatingly obvious stuff - are considering introducing legislation to incentivise consumers to repair broken goods rather than replacing them.
It is proposed that VAT on the repair of highly consumptive items like bikes, clothes and shoes would be cut from 25pc to 12pc and also that people would be allowed to claim back, from income tax, half of the labour cost on repairs to white appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.
Sweden has already made a lot of progress in reducing the carbon footprint produced domestically - annual CO2 emissions have been cut by 23pc since 1990 and more than half of its electricity comes from renewable sources - so the aim of this move is to try reduce the carbon footprint of goods produced elsewhere.
However, this is as much about stirring personal prudence as it is global frugality, the hope being that the tax break on appliances will spur the creation of a new home-repairs service industry.
It sound like the thing we could usefully employ in this country.
The big multinationals are all very fine and get lots of headlines when a big number of new jobs is announced. But a lot of the attraction is down to our generous grants and the love often dwindles when the supports run out.