Captain Awesome wrote:
Furniture and other things were built to last. Now it's a throw-away junk most of the time. You furnish your entire place with sleek furniture from IKEA and it falls apart few years later. It's definitely not coming with you to your new place - it's only built to be assembled once. I've seen countless time people throwing away the furniture when they move and buying different one when they move in. Talk to people from older generation about furniture - they used to give their furniture to their kids - because it would last that long.
Is it better to buy IKEA furniture and throw it away every 10 years? Or should you buy built to last stuff that lasts your entire life for 10x the price (consider both the time value of money and the fact that you aren't going to live to age 130, assuming you can afford to buy the "real" furniture at age 30)? And then you expect to pass it on to your kids, but they already have their own furniture and anyways they don't really like your taste in furniture. So they throw it away or maybe sell it at an estate sale for 50 bucks.
I'm somewhat just playing devil's advocate. most of our furniture came from those estate sales and whatnot.
But the truth is, furniture is significantly cheaper nowadays. Our parents and their parents spent a pretty decent chunk of their income on furniture, clothes, food, etc; the share of income dedicated to those things has gone significantly down in the last century in the US. And the technology you mention didn't even exist for consumers. So it's not really an apples to apples comparison.
In fact the low cost of physical goods is quite possibly the cause of all the clutter. We as a species grew up during millennia where physical goods were hard to get and precious. And perhaps we haven't grown out of that yet.