I have a friend who buys handcrafted goods and it turns out that they are not better made after all.
If you look at this article 11 Benefits you will see the lies that are often discussed. I am going to show you why those are not true.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE GREEN.
Truth: China manufactures things by hand in factories because of the large abundance of cheap labor. Most US citizens buy goods made from China in Wal-Mart and other retailers. This hand production causes more carbon emissions due to its inefficient nature. Instead of a machine that can produce hundreds or thousands of items at a time, human labor is slower and less precise.
For example, luxury cars and goods say how they have “hand crafted stitching” and other silly things. When most people who buy luxury cars switch them every 4 years on average, this is a meaningless metric. It is gold-plating that doesn’t improve the value in any way other than the ego of thinking that someone who owns that car or product is more special or exclusive.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE GOOD FOR THE JOB MARKET.
Truth: This is really old thinking. People are still trying to push products instead of experiences. What is higher value and less stressful and sustainable is to allow people to have the ability to learn services. Service jobs are ultimately more profitable and better for everyone else.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE WORTH MORE.
Truth: The “perception of value” is what caused the bubble in housing and other markets. When we value something more than it really is worth that is a distortion of the value of the free market. Isn’t the idea of a free market that prices are determined by what people will pay for them, and ultimately the market corrects. With the type of thinking in this article, they would want you to buy something and when the value deflate “oh well the perception of value has changed”. Is that a wise way of making decisions?
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE ALSO JUST BETTER.
Truth: Based on what? I could not find any studies that support this. How is someones skill automatically make something better. Yes it is true that some goods like a Stradivarius violin or something has value due to its rarity and technique. However it does not follow that goods are automatically better because they are handmade. Yes there are people with great skill, but given the vast majority of goods are not made by elite craftsmen, it does not follow that the average handcrafted product is better. The industrial revolution brought a standard of quality with factory made goods, and that standard has given us the standard of life we have now. I would not want a handmade car. People can not perform at the level of automation and robotics.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR PURCHASES.
Truth: Feeling good should be rooted in truth and reality rather than illusion. If you buy something then what is the value to yourself and to society by buying it? The value is the long-term consequences of it. Lets say you buy a handcrafted bag. Wonderful. How long does that bag last versus one made by a machine? I would bet that the machine one lasts longer. Even if it doesn’t, it was probably made more efficiently.
Feeling good about your purchases is also in not buying things. We don’t always have to buy handcrafted goods to do good. We do the most good when we consider our needs, and only buy what we need. Far too often we justify our purchases of what we want based on factors that only rich people will use. Is your handbag worn or not looking good? Those same people who bought the handmade bag say that it is out of style and buy a new one. They feel plenty “good” about buying a handcrafted bag and say that their bag will be donated to charity. Meanwhile that charity dumps those clothes on third world countries which kills their own textile industry and jobs. Do you feel “good” about killing jobs that you aren’t even aware you killed because of the first world dumping all those “good handmade bags” on the deserving poor?
You don’t get to throw away things like we do in the US without consequences to someone. Feeling good is not the highest priority in being an ethical and “good” person.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS HELP COMMUNITIES.
Truth: As stated before helping communities with sustainable business like tourism and service is far better in every sense than pushing products. This is an article with an interest to sell, nothing more. You want to help communities? Volunteer, give to reputable charities, or work in a business that helps the disadvantaged. If you want to do good, do it directly and real.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS CAN MEET YOUR NEEDS BETTER.
Truth: What needs do you have that haven’t been thought of already? How much customization do you need to be happy? I worked for millionaires and they believed that customization would make them more happy. They customized the hell out of everything. They were very unhappy and nothing they changed made them more happy. In fact, the definition of someones happiness is their ability to accept life not try to constantly change everything. This is a distortion of what being a human is. Being human isn’t having the world as we want it, it is helping others have a chance to express their voice and be happy.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS OFFER A FULLER EXPERIENCE.
Truth: A fuller experience? Experiences are not full or empty they are exactly what we are open to at the moment. The back story of a manufactured product doesn’t make it less real than a handcrafted one. I get it, we want natural things. However a factory made organic, non-gmo, locally sourced, sustainable, fair-trade product that is far better for society than something “hand-made” which probably has none of those qualities. Even if they do have those qualities, what is the total amount of carbon used in making that product? There is no way that human labor is more efficient per good produced than machine labor.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE EASIER TO BUY AND MORE POPULAR THAN EVER.
Truth: We can access the skill and creativity of people who design mass manufactured goods. Until the replicator becomes commonplace, it will be more efficient to produce goods at a central source where material and specialized machines are located. Moving manufacturing to the end-user “hand-made” implies a one person operation doesn’t it?
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS ARE UNIQUE.
Truth: Uniqueness is overrated. We are unique not because of what we have or what we wear. We are unique because of our values and what we have as part of our personality. When we focus on uniqueness outside of us, we devalue the uniqueness inside of us. Why do we seek to look unique externally when we are all the same inside? People like to think they are special, but very few people are truly unique. Maybe a few geniuses like Einstein or Newton or something like that, but the rest of us are all very much like each other.
Lie: HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS SUPPORT A TRADITION OF SKILLED WORK.
“We have seen”? We have seen nothing. What we have read is a bunch of unfounded, unsupported assertions with no basis of evidence offered. You can look up my statements and find solid research underpinning them. “Hand made” goods is just a new marketing spin on consuming more garbage we don’t need. You want to buy handmade goods, fine, I don’t care if you do. Just don’t fool yourself thinking you are doing anyone a favor.