jacob wrote: ↑Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:58 amAn ecosystem has four components, which form a cycle: Abiotic (resources), producers, consumers, and decomposers. Modern economics only considers two of these relevant: producers and consumers. It ignores the finite abiotic resources and presumes that their only limit is the producers' ability to turn them into commodities. Similarly, consumers and producers ignore decomposition. Once our waste and detritus is dumped into landfills, lakes, rivers, and the atmosphere, and is out of sight, it is, for all intents and purposes, out of mind. Meanwhile, the finite planet is running out of its finite resources (duh!) and pollution keeps increasing and is starting to bite back.
Questions to begin:
- Would it be possible to incentivize decomposers to capture items destined for a landfill and redirect them back to consumers at a rate that is higher than the current system incentivizes producers?
- Would it be possible to encourage consumers to desire these redirected items more than new versions?
- Would it be possible to expand this beyond niche markets?
There is a small subset of consumers willing to pay more for an item adorning a Patagonia Worn Wear ReCrafted patch, indicating the company has recreated the item from used garments diverted from the landfill, than they would for a brand new item. Patagonia has dubbed this better than new.
In their 2021 Resale Report, luxury consignment reseller The RealReal revealed that Chanel, the most popular brand on the site, was follow by an unusual #2, unbranded items. A recent article in Vogue about this strange change said,
A shift is occurring. Consumers who once sought status through branded items are now seeking status with vintage and unbranded items. Again, according to Vogue,This is a site where designer names are often the entire point. “Brands typically drive everything for us, and this is that one area where that is no longer the case,” Sasha Skoda, The RealReal’s director of women’s fashion and fine jewelry, explains. “Every single year, our Resale Report has been about logomania, and this is literally the opposite of that.”
“To tell someone ‘It’s vintage’ when they ask about your dress—that’s kind of a badge of honor,” she says. “We’re seeing this broader shift into more vintage and one-of-a-kind, and less of a need for logos and current-season pieces.”
The shift from brand to unbranded to puɐɹq
Would it be possible to flip the idea of branding on its head?
High end, specialty machinist companies have been remanufacturing parts and devices for years. The Remanufacturing Industries Council defines this as:
Our resident remanufacturer @Sclass has created parts and solutions for his vintage Mercedes cars and appliances that are better-than-new. If a person were looking to purchase a vintage Mercedes or a second-hand Vita-Mix blender they would be well served if they knew it had been remanufactured by @Sclass.Remanufacturing is a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which a previously sold, worn, or non-functional product or component is returned to a "like-new" or "better-than-new" condition and warranted in performance level and quality.
As part of the remanufacturing process @Sclass could remove the Vita-Mix branding logo from the front of the blender, flip it upside down and reinstall it as a way to signify that it has been remanufactured. Consider it an acknowledgement of the dire distress. The Worn Wear buyers will instantly connect with this idea and may pay the same as new or even a bit more for it. That alone may be enough for them to choose it over a new one. Unbranded jewelry buyers may need a greater incentive.4 U.S. Code § 8 - Respect for flag
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
How Crypto Changes Things (cryptoskeptics, please bear with me)
For centuries artist have been exploited by dealers and resellers. They create their work of art, sell it through dealers, then the subsequent buyers and resellers reap the lion share of the appreciation of their work. There are a few interesting crypto projects working to fix this. OpenArtSource, for instance, registers physical and digital works with NFTs on the bitcoin blockchain. There they maintain a transparent history of sales and - most interesting - smart contracts are written so that the artist receives a 5% commission on all future sales. Resellers and buyers are incentivized to resell using the platform to maintain the valuable provenance of the work, similar to how people resell cars or homes through the official DMV/deed systems to ensure future salability.
This same idea could be extended to remanufactured items. Let's say @Sclass's knows exactly which part were originally made to fail in Vita-Mix blenders. He can create sturdier versions of those parts and repair the Vita-Mixers himself or sell the parts to other remanufacturers for a % of the resale value of the repaired Vita Mix. This would all be tracked by the ebay-like sales platform which operates commission-free like a digital utility. As the original person who saved the blender from the landfill @Sclass would be rewarded with a percentage of all future resales.
As momentum builds and people begin to value remanufactured items greater than new items - think vintage vinyl LP records being more valuable than reissues - the incentives align. @Sclass is incentivized to manufacture more of the parts that were originally designed to fail in the original item. Others are incentivized to go digging though landfills for items to repair.
Would you be willing to pay more for a hand tool remanufactured by Jimmy DiResta, a trailer remanufactured by Laura Kampf or a custom tailored pair of pants remanufactured from scraps (with tags sewn on the outside, upside-down) by our own @horsewoman? What if there were literally millions of cottage workers each specializing in repairing items that interest them - doing what they love - all rated by previous purchasers on a free Amazon-like blockchain based exchange, which not only tracked sales but also all future value-added and resales.
Much of the infrastructure needed to make this happen already exists. OpenBaazar the peer-to-peer, open source, fee free version of ebay failed two year ago after crypto transaction fees skyrocketed and no one could afford to transact in Bitcoin. They were two years too early. Today the Lightning Network exists and is working well in El Salvador for payments. There are plenty of smart contract programs minting NFTs at near zero cost.
I believe it meets the criteria.
Thoughts? Problems? I love problems!