Craftsmanship: A Forgotten Casualty in Today’s Disposable World

Written by Candace Hardin on October 5, 2017

Many groups today like to talk about being green, sustainable resources and the environment. They seem to think that they are the only ones that try to save the planet and keep things nice for future generations.

There are products that are meant to be disposable that generations past did not utilize. While these things are a great time saver in today’s workday world, they do add a great deal to landfills and solid wastes.

Yesterday’s generation had a much better handle on recycling and keeping trash to a minimum. Not because of a desire to be “green”, but for economy’s sake.

Perusing an antique shop is the best way to see how grandparents and great grandparents were much savvier on frugality, value and conservation than any of today’s “green” agendas.

Granted, mother was usually in the home, as Dad could make enough to support the family on his own with his factory job or family farm.

Cookware was made of cast iron. It is a heavy, good for you, even heating, and could be passed down to the next generation as a way to prepare food. Iron was cooked into the food and that is healthy. Aluminum, as is used a great deal today, is not a good thing to have in the human body.

Many modern kitchen items are not designed for the long term. They are made cheaply and after time are only good for the garbage.

Paper plates and napkins were not the norm until sometime in the twentieth century. Picnic baskets had plates and silverware attached to lids, along with sandwich boxes, thermoses and real tablecloths and cloth napkins. Wax paper was the choice portable food wrap, which was easily decomposed.

All of these items could be collected and washed for the next use.

Furniture was made of real wood, such as oak, mahogeny, walnut, maple and pine. A master craftsman assembled each piece with dove tailed drawers and sturdy pulls for long use. Sofa frames were heavy from the types of wood and materials that constructed them.

Even the fabrics of yesteryear were durable and lasted many years with minimal care, and new slipcovers were employed when the original coverings began to show wear.

Today, press board, which is pressure treated sawdust molded into sheets of “wood” are the main types of support systems in sofas, tables, chairs, etc.

These items will last a short period of time and will begin to breakdown with use. Unlike their counterparts of generations past, there is no way to repair them as they are made to be disposable.

Another distressing thing is that younger generations no longer even want the lovely old things from the twenties, thirties forties and fifties. Most young people are more self-centered rather than big family-oriented, depending on electronics to store their memories, rather than scrapbooks and picture albums.

There are fewer holiday and neighborhood attachments.

Manners have also become disposable as a more mobile society has emerged with fast food, electronic information and social media.

People today have a deep absence of the values and morals that Baby Boomers grew up with and found necessary to create a stable society.

Instead of cherishing the manners and traditions that had made this country great, there is a new self-righteousness of being “green”, or worrying about who is racist, misogynist or xenophobe. Politicians fan the flame of division and keep the masses in discontent, as this pushes their individual agendas further.

By focusing on these new concepts and empty words, people validate whatever voids are in their lives and make themselves feel virtuous.

With all the available forms of communication available today, people interact in person less. They feel free to say horrible things to each other as it is said online and not face to face.

Communities lack leaderships and cohesiveness, lives are rootless and forgo the ties and social stigmas that in generations past kept everyone grounded.

Relationships are disposable as well. People “hook up” instead of taking time to build a lasting friendship which can develop into something meaningful.

Society is in free fall and no one seems to notice.

Make the change by becoming a community leader, educator and good neighbor. Throw a block party, get involved with the local Chamber of Commerce as a volunteer.

If more are not willing to help mold youth and community, nothing will improve and life will soon be made up of human beings living in their solitary vacuum.

photo credit: Excerpted from: photo credit: kenwalton Untitled via photopin (license)

On so many fronts, our modern, “disposable” society is losing appreciation for great craftsmanship.

Candace Hardin
Candace Hardin resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She is fluent in Spanish and a student of Latin and history. She is a columnist on and has a blog, Originally from North Carolina, her writing and beliefs have been heavily influenced by the Appalachian culture and tradition.