According to Mental Floss, before the post-World War II economic boom made consumer goods cheaper and more accessible, people did a lot less shopping. So when they did shop, they chose quality over quantity.
Think of your granny’s old but still-in-good-condition dress, or your grandfather’s perfectly-preserved antique furniture. Today, in contrast, we buy goods that last only months – at most, a year.
This is where BuyMeOnce comes in. The website only sells products that are built to last. Most, if not all, the items in their collection are made from high-quality materials, such as umbrellas made from fiberglass and steel or home decor crafted from sustainable wood.
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And in the rare cases they do break, they come with lifetime warranties or are easy to maintain and repair. For example, Le Creuset’s cookware has a ‘cast iron’ guarantee, while Eagle Creek’s travel bags have a ‘No Matter What’ lifetime warranty.
“I’m looking for […] the companies that are really trying and trying to cut down on this throwaway culture,” said BuyMeOnce founder Tara Button. “Like Patagonia offers free fixing of their clothes. Nobody does that, and half of us don’t know how to [sew] anymore.”
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The products have a classic aesthetic too. Meaning, no matter the trends in the future, that jacket or pair of trousers from Buy Me Once will still look great on you – as opposed to ‘trendy’ pieces from fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M.
While the items do cost more upfront, they do save you more money (not to mention are better for the planet) in the long run.
As Bustle notes, would you rather pay for a US$300 (AUS$385) pot that would last 40 years, or shell out US$100 (AUS$128) on one that’s cheaper but would last only two years?
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We recently spoke to Tara Button to learn more about the incredible work she’s doing with BuyMeOnce. Check it out:
What inspired you to start the website?
“I came up with the idea for BuyMeOnce when I was given an amazing heirloom cooking pot guaranteed for a lifetime. I thought, ‘I want everything in my life to be like this’. So I went looking for a shop which brought together all the longest-lasting things in the world and I didn’t find one.
“Many of us buy the same cheap, shoddy things again and again. I realised quickly that BuyMeOnce should exist because not only would longer lasting products help the environment, but they would also save people money and stress.
“So despite having no experience, I started to build BuyMeOnce in my spare time and then suddenly it went viral. I was able to quit my job in advertising and build a team to help me fulfill my mission to change the way we shop.”
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You were formerly an ad executive, someone whose job is to convince the masses to keep on buying stuff. What was your journey like to get where you are now?
“I was an enthusiastic environmentalist from an early age. When I was seven, I ‘invented’ a projector out of my dad’s torch and an old box and projected ‘save the world’ onto my bedroom walls.
“The aim was to find a torch powerful enough to reach the moon and to project my plea for planet-saving there. Unfortunately, even my dad’s brightest torch didn’t quite get that far.
“My first loves are creativity, writing and coming up with ideas. I fell into a job in advertising, coming up with ideas to sell more chocolate spread and sofas. While I enjoyed the creativity, I did not feel like I was bringing much good to the world; therefore, when the idea of BuyMeOnce came to me and went viral, I jumped at the chance to make it my new profession.
“I started the website in my spare time, and then took a half salary pay cut in order to be able to leave at lunch time. Then when the site went viral, I was able to leave my advertising job behind me.”
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Most people would rather buy cheap but badly-made products over the more expensive but longer-lasting ones. How do you plan on shifting the consumer mindset from the former to the latter?
“I’m getting the word out that our relationship with stuff is broken. The world is constantly telling us that we need to have the next great thing, but at the same time the quality of products has gone down. This has led to houses full of clutter, stressed out people who shop for the sake of shopping and get into debt.
“Most of the world’s scientist agree that we’ve got an environmental crisis. All of this can be solved with more mindful shopping of the things that we need long term, but the products themselves need to meet that challenge.
“By doing all the research and finding the longest lasting and most sustainable products we are making it easy for people to shop in a more sustainable way. We find amazing brands that shoppers may not have heard of and at the same time we campaign to get other companies to up their game and be less short sighted.
“We plan to change consumer mindsets by revealing all the benefits, both personal and environmental.
“When you buy for the long term you naturally think more deeply about what you want from your life which leads to better decision making. You have less stress because the things around you let you down less often.
“Everything you do own brings you joy so you are surrounded by things that nourish you, serve you well and reflect your values. You save money in the long term because you have to replace things less often.
“It isn’t often talked about but buying for the long term can save a huge amount of energy and pollution and it’s so easy to do. E.g. if you buy a t-shirt that can last two years instead of one you save 24% of the CO emissions.
“If you buy once and buy well it means less mining, less factory pollution, less truck pollution and less waste.”
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What’s your vision for BuyMeOnce? Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
“Our goal is to create real change so we’re here for the long term. We want to be the first place people turn to for things that last.
“We hope to launch a BMO stamp, like a fair-trade symbol of longevity so that people will look for the BuyMeOnce stamp and know they are finding the best quality item.
“We will move into bricks and mortar stores at some point as we feel that it’s important that people get a chance to touch and see the objects that they are committing to.”
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