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Cheap or Expensive and the Argument for Both

There is an old expression that you get what you pay for and if it's cheap then it is of inferior quality. But this is not always the case and bargains abound in these difficult days where manufacturers face tougher competition than ever before.

Another part of the argument is the awareness we now all have over the dwindling resources on the planet and the need to recycle more and find other ways of preserving what we have.

Take just one item such as cheap shoes and then look at argument that it is probably better to buy very expensive bespoke handmade shoes instead. The cheap ones may last a year or two before they fall apart and will need replacing.

Buying a cheap pair of office shoes will mean that in an average working life of perhaps forty years or so, about twenty or thirty pairs will be needed.

On the other hand, if a bespoke pair is bought they will last all of those years if taken care of properly.

The expensive longer lasting shoes may cost seven hundred pounds or so but with the cheaper pair costing fifty pounds the arithmetic is simple to calculate with the result that the expensive pair works out cheaper in the long run.

To make shoes and clothes last longer it is always better to have several of each and rotate them daily. For example, it is probably much more cost efficient to have two or three pairs of office lace-up shoes and never wear the same pair two days running.

The other obvious disadvantage of buying cheaply made shoes and having to replace them every year or two is the wastefulness of the materials. If they are made of cheap leather they cannot be recycled and will have to end up as landfill.

In most other respects people are getting the message that making things last longer makes not only economic sense but is better for the environment. The gloom and doom merchants may be right when they argue that we are not going to leave much on this planet for our as yet unborn great grandchildren.

The answer is not so simple that all it takes is to make things longer lasting and cheaper because in a materialistic society wealth and production go hand in hand and just like the classic example of light bulb manufacturing the producers need consumers to constantly want their products.

If the manufacturer produces the perfect product that will never age or go out of fashion and will never need replacing then he will soon be out of business once the market is saturated.

Cheap shoes do not have to mean a cheap product but can just as easily mean that the discerning shopper is canny at spotting a bargain. Every shopper loves to bag a bargain as the big sales in places like Oxford Street confirms. Finding quality at the right price is the key to shopping for all products from fish fingers to shoes.