Yesterday, I spent far more money than I could ever imagine on a new vacuum cleaner.

The purchase of a German-made Miele came after years of buying $100 at big-box stores that promised “Hurricane Suction” only to lose most of performance after a year or so. So while buying a Miele put a quick end to some recent penny-pinching, it seems to be a solid investment: a quality machine that will hopefully provide years of high performance.

In theory, this should be the goal for people looking to buy consumer electronics. In practice, however, consumers tend to be seduced by cost (the lower, the better) over quality. They buy a crappy product, use it for a short period of time, and then re-buy the same product. It’s a cycle that makes no sense other than being able to economically feed the need to buy something new.

Think about how many times you’ve considered two products, and picked the cheaper one, even though you rationally recognize the more expensive one is going to last longer and provide a better ROI. It’s doesn’t make sense.

Of course, consumer electronics makers are playing consumers for fools. They lure consumers with features most of us will never use while making products that aren’t designed or built to last. Even Maytag has sadly lost its status as a company that makes built-to-last products.

This model works as long as consumers are happy to accept low-cost, low quality products, while companies ferociously market features over quality. It’s a sad but harsh but sad reality.

More: Here’s an interesting article about how to squeeze more printed copies from low-cost printers. For people looking for a way to recycle gadgets, check out Gazelle.com, which will make you an offer on them based on condition and what packaging/accessories you have.

Even more: Jeremy Toeman has really good post looking at “14 Ways to Use Gadgets More Sustainably”. Lots of good words of advice, including “Don’t Need? Don’t Buy!”

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