Buy it for life used to just be called “Life”. You have that one chance. I saved up so much to afford this that I would be lucky to have it once in a lifetime. I never questioned why I did not have a second. Buy it for life is not new as a movement. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you probably can imagine what it’s supposed to mean.
For me, Buy it for Life is personal. Several aspects are relevant, and I will explain how we incorporate them into our lives. Sustainability, Environment, Less waste, Right to repair, and cost savings are vital factors.
Sustainability is just the state of being sustained. At the current rate of natural resource removal, along with the burgeoning world population and the rate at which it’s using the resources, it’s necessary for us to consider ways to decrease the rapid pace of resource depletion. For example, consider cotton is not only a soil wrecking plant, it also requires large amounts of water and chemical processing to make the material available fabrics for jeans and t-shirts. The jeans and t-shirts produced are not even ones that could have longevity to offset some of the resource waste. Change needs to happen with our practices of obtaining resources, or better yet, swapping the resources that are necessary for our survival. The sustainability of resources leads directly to my next point.
Our environment is not a buzzword, it is the word. Those chemicals being used on every new product produced are not magically disappearing after they do their jobs to make your jeans wearable. Following Science is always relevant, and yet I make additional points regarding the environment. Continuing with the jeans and t-shirts being produced largely from cotton, our environment risks chemical containments from the original production of cotton and overuse and dependence on chemicals in the plant to create the perfect wearable garment that we have all come to know and love. But does it even matter to have the most fashionably soft t-shirt or perfectly designed jeans, if the environment that creates them now will not exist in a very short time? We often don’t think about where consumer goods come from, much less about the people who help produce them, or the state of the land from which they came. But what if that is another key aspect of the world becoming a better place? We have to consider all the aspects working together, including the societal and human impacts created by the inane behavior to have it now and have it cheap. But the lesson remains that items created without consideration for the environment and the human toll of that, are decidedly not buy-it-for-life worthy.
Part of sustainability is also the societal implications. If I am not throwing away clothing, but rather recycling it, repairing it, or passing it to another who can use it, I am intentionally creating less waste. If we create less waste, we are by virtue creating a better world. Buy it for life overlaps with the idea of creating less waste.
Another area of overlapping interest is “Right to repair”, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you purchase an item you should have the right to repair it instead of just throwing it away and leaving it to the manufacturer to decide when you need to buy another one (instead of fixing the one you have). If an item is developed in such a way that you may repair it, isn’t it “buy it for life”?
Finally, cost savings. This is of utmost importance. It’s easy to think you aren’t saving money when you are buying a product that is twice, three times, or even more the price of an inferior, more disposable version of the same product. Here is basic math on a hypothetical product to show the cost savings of buying a more quality product.
This example is based on two pairs of Women’s jeans. The first pair of jeans we will call “store brand”. Store brand jeans cost $20 on sale. The jeans last less than 6 months before the thighs rub thin. At this time, I had these jeans on a twice-weekly rotation, and they were worn about 48 times. The cost per wear is $0.42.
The second pair of jeans is a Buy it for life version of Women’s Jeans. These jeans were purchased at a sale price of $65. The jeans have so far lasted three years, with what looks like much life left in them. I wear these jeans three times a week, and they have been worn about 468 times. The cost per wear is $0.14.
The above hypothetical example is based on myself and the jeans I have owned.
If you want to learn more about the Buy it for life movement and what to consider, here are a few resources: first stop is the Reddit which made the idea commonplace, go to r/buyitforlife. Next up is a more recent addition and one I just discovered while writing this article: buyforlife.com.