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Author Topic: Getting more use out of "replaceables" - a knowledge hub  (Read 681 times)
shevek
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« on: July 02, 2023 @879.50 »

I have recently found myself caving in and getting a water filter carafe; I am living in an area with horribly hard water and I tried hard to withstand that, but I am tired of how much limestone my kettle always gets and how my tea tastes.
The thing is, those filters need to be replaced. Allegedly, according to the manufacturer (Brita), every 4 weeks. That's nuts. That is so much additional money and waste. It had me wondering if it can last way longer than said on the package, and if there was a way for me to "reset" (clean?) the filter to get additional time out of it. And if not, if there are cheap offbrands that would fit, preferably with less waste.

I think many of us come into contact with products like that; other products types that make bank off of parts needing to be replaced regularly are
  • Printers and their ink cartridges
  • Specific coffee machines and their capsules
  • Heads for toothbrushes or razors
  • .. and many more

Many companies offering these give you no info on how to make the replaceables last longer, some suggesting a much shorter cycle than necessary, and making it hard or impossible to buy cheaper replacements.

HP has been notorious for branding their cartridges in a way that third party ones don't work or old ones cannot be reused, even getting caught with showing that cartridges are empty when they aren't yet. This same brand checking happens with coffee capsules (I think Keurig is or was especially bad with this), and many razor and electric toothbrush manufacturers want you to buy their own expensive heads because none else will fit on purpose. The devices are becoming more "smart" with each generation, now hounding you to replace according to their schedule, not yours, and sometimes refuse to work until you do (or override this mechanism).

Of course, some of these have a very absolutist solution - don't buy these machines, print at a printshop, get a safety razor, get a wooden toothbrush etc. and these are valid! However, I think it would be much more interesting for people who do have them and want to make it work to share tips :smile: after all, it is yours, you paid for it, and some of these are extremely customer-unfriendly practices.

The above examples were just a small selection. I'm sure there are more out there. So if you have encountered other products like this or have tips on how to make them last or trick the brand check, feel free to share for us all. Or feel free to complain about this concept :ok:
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2023 @415.10 »

...oh god, this reminds me a lot of planned obsolescence in tech. it's absolutely infuriating! i just looked it up and apparently brita filters can effectively be replaced by replacing the activated carbon inside the filter. it doesn't specify what kind, but i think activated carbon used for cleaning aquariums could work? *shrug*
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2023 @422.43 »

I've heard about refillable ink printers, instead of buying ink cartridges you just fill the printers with ink. I don't have one so I can't tell you about the experience.

I also would like to say that I never had to replace my head for my electric toothbrush. Nore did I know that I was supposed to do that.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2023 @426.41 by Icelogist » Logged



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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2023 @537.47 »

This is a good thread idea; plus its finally a chance to talk about my 1963 Gillette Super Speed Razer  :grin:

Those Brita filters really are a scam unless your water is truly bad. You can get under-sink filters (or even household filters) that last much longer (although you'd need to own your house or get landlord permission to install them)  :ohdear: Also also if you're in more rural areas you can find natural springs or wells near you to collect water. My mum gets her drinking water from a local holy well that has a statue of Mary that apparently comes to life sometimes (so I dunno what's in that water, but it tastes much better than water from the tap!)

Capsule coffee is just awful and I will not allow it! You can get fancy and grind your own coffee, but that's really not necessary. A pack of nice ground coffee and a french press (or an Aeropress, or even a drip machine if you wanna be from the 80s) and you'll have good coffee, far less waste and won't be locked into any ecosystem; plus you can even explore unusual coffees if you like.

On the razor front, I did actually switch over to a safety razer a few years ago and I would never go back (though the blades I use are made in Russia and they wont ship here anymore :drat:)  When I used cartridge razers before that (or when I travel); a good tip is to rinse it every 20 seconds and also run the blades backwards across your jeans to "sharpen" them. Also having a shower before you shave will soften hairs and make any razor last longer.

Generally, the biggest tip though is just to look after your stuff. Keep things clean and orderly, don't push stuff too hard or abuse it, treat things gently and understand how they work. If you do that you can help things last much longer. You can invest as much as you like in fancy stuff, but if you don't look after it, it's not gonna last.

On that theme, another big one is to improve your overall knowledge; learning how to cook and how to enjoy it gets you out of depending on pre-made foods and sauces; learning the basics of sewing can give clothes an extra year or two. Our teacher in 5th class decided to go off script one day and teach us how to replace plugs on old appliances; that class has saved more than one old hairdryer from the dump  :ozwomp:

Having flatmates can be painful because they don't seem to know a lot of basics; like if you're doing the dishes, first use cold water and a brush (this means things like cheese and fats won't melt and stick to the brush) - then use hot water and a brush (this removes most gunk) - then use a sponge and soap for the final clean - then rinse it with hot water - and set it to dry. Finally when you're all done; clean the sponge and the brush and set them to dry (never leave them in the sink). That whole process means your brushes and sponges last a really long time and are ready for use again later.

Oh I can get very picky about this  :ohdear: (You can get picky if you like; but generally if you get too picky that's a sign you need to take a lil holiday  :tongue:)

Random Tips:
  • Buy powder washing machine detergent - it's much more cost-effective than those pods/capsules and you can fine-tune the amount of detergent you use. Generally speaking, any kind of capsule should be avoided!
  • Don't move your hard drives when they are turned on.
  • Don't let your batteries run to 0% and don't leave them charging at 100% - aim to stay around 20-80% charge
  • You can buy bulk salt and refill your salt shaker
  • Cut-up old clothes can make useful rags and cleaning products.
  • It's better to invest more in high-quality things upfront than cheapening out and having to replace stuff sooner.
  • Buying second-hand high-quality items, like phones or tools is a good idea.

I also would like to say that I never had to replace my head for my electric toothbrush. Nore did I know that I was supposed to do that.
I remember reading long ago that if the bristles of the brush stick out past the head of the brush, then its time to replace it; Iv no idea if that's true or not! I just buy whatever regular brush is on sale (usually once or twice a year)

The thing about any locked-in ecosystem is that it's always a tradeoff of convenience-cost. A manual toothbrush works just as well as an electric one, but you have to put more effort into using it correctly. That's the same for razors, coffee markers etc; you got to find the effort-cost point that works for you. Although I'd always encourage people to push for a little more effort!
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2023 @596.86 »

I also would like to say that I never had to replace my head for my electric toothbrush. Nore did I know that I was supposed to do that.

It's because the bristles wear out over time, I believe. The heads are pretty cheap, though, if you're willing to get off-brands---the proper brand is, from what I've seen, $33 for ten heads. I replace my head every few months, and I think I use an off-brand, though I'm not sure.
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shevek
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2023 @657.65 »

Those Brita filters really are a scam unless your water is truly bad. You can get under-sink filters (or even household filters) that last much longer (although you'd need to own your house or get landlord permission to install them)  :ohdear: Also also if you're in more rural areas you can find natural springs or wells near you to collect water. My mum gets her drinking water from a local holy well that has a statue of Mary that apparently comes to life sometimes (so I dunno what's in that water, but it tastes much better than water from the tap!)

True! I tried for 4 years now to make it work and our water is truly awful. Before that, I lived in an area with extremely soft water and my hair and skin was so great. Since the move and the increased limestone, my hair and skin really don't take it well and the amount of cleaning in the bathroom and descaling of appliances is honestly insane.
Since I rent, I have no control over the overall building filters, and I've looked into those filters you hook between your shower head and the water source or the sink filters 2 years ago, and they all have super mixed reviews as well also calling them a scam or needing to be replaced way too often. I hope I can move to a different area or a building with much better filtering one day. It's something I really don't understand - why are buildings not investing into quality filter systems? We are all just resigning to living in limestone hell breaking our devices and ruining our tea. :grin:
Don't even get me started on what this amount of limestone does to toilets. I am out here dumping bottles of vinegar essence into these bad boys.

brita filters can effectively be replaced by replacing the activated carbon inside the filter. it doesn't specify what kind, but i think activated carbon used for cleaning aquariums could work?

I will definitely look into this, thank you :smile: I'll have to figure out how to open the filter container safely, too.
When I have figured that out maybe I'll post a guide.

I also would like to say that I never had to replace my head for my electric toothbrush. Nore did I know that I was supposed to do that.
You are technically supposed to switch out your head (or entire toothbrush, if not electric) every 6 months, and also after each infection (like a cold, etc.). I do it maybe once a year, because I have never brushed aggressively so the bristles stay intact, and now with my sonic tooth brush, I don't need to press it on either. I know other people who brush so strongly their bristles bend around the head pretty quickly, that's very unhealthy..

On the razor front, I did actually switch over to a safety razer a few years ago and I would never go back

I am honestly super happy with mine. But I also used these one-time disposable razors for months at a time before I had the safety razor :grin:

You can buy bulk salt and refill your salt shaker
Even bigger lifehack (if you are like my girlfriend and me, and do not like the huge salt chunks on the pretzel): Remove the salt from the pretzel or collect the bags of salt they give you with the ones you can make in the oven, and then grind it to refill your salt shaker :ok:

My printer hack is admittedly to just not own one. And print at work or at a nearby shop. But if I had one I would try everything I could to trick it into using the offbrand, or not giving up too early on the cartridge. I think some people tape paper over some parts or break off the little chip or whatever recognizes the cartridges from the brand cartridges and glue it to the offbrand.
But I resigned from printers when my old one's integrated scanner broke and that meant it refused to print too, despite the printer being completely functional and unaffected. Thank you, Canon.
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2023 @834.49 »

Some tips! Printers now have a line called “eco tanks” which is refillable and uses plain pigments. They’re more expensive up front and can be temperamental, but they don’t require cartridges!
Keurig is a scam, I have one and wish I didn’t. Get a Mr. Coffee pot. But if you have one already, get reusable cups, they don’t work well but do the job! And you can run Keurig with just hot water and use instant coffee or tea! Plus, it won’t clog up the spout with grinds that way.
For filters, you can use em longer. Idk about sink filters, but with pool filters my dad would hose them down outside, so I imagine sink filters may work the same.
I’ve been thinking about disposable stuff lately. Now that I have a job, I’m ready to start investing in reusable stuff that’ll last me a long time. It hurts to pay more up front, but I prefer to know the item will last a good while! And buying second hand also is the best. I’m glad the stigma is going away, since you can give things a second chance at life. It hurts to throw things away, so I like knowing they’ll continue to bring someone happiness after being donated!
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2023 @685.63 »

Pick your goodies wisely.
Old 90s bicycles for example. Current bicycles are lighter and faster, but go much more towards the full integration like  laptops/smartphones nowadays, where you can't replace things as easily. Now you have to judge between repairability and performance, but the old scrap is clearly the sustainable choice.

I'd go for used goods in most cases. Bicycle brake pads are a mixed bag. The old types have hardened now and are indestructible, but also have a lower braking power. If you drive properly, you can survive with those as well.

Printers: That mafia deserves a whack through buying used printers of the second-hand market only. If the printer survived let's say 10 years, you'll probably have a good run with it as well. The market for used printers is oversaturated and they are extremly cheap now.

Lamps: Just don't tolerate anything, where the light bulb or LED bulb can't be unscrewed and replaced. If you have some communist country nearby, get the light bulbs from there. Narva GDR and USSR bulbs rocking since more than 30 years!
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2023 @277.27 »

since a few people have also mentioned eco tank ink printers, there are some circumstances where you can just get a laser printer! eco tank printers clog up if they're not used frequently, but laser printers don't have this issue. plus i like warm paper.  :ok: cartridges are also expensive, but they're meant to last for thousands of prints :3 i think for the average print job most people would rather use a laser printer. laser printers don't work with all types of paper tho. link

sorry such a big part of this thread is suggesting alternatives  :ohdear: but for long term investments in ur home like coffee machines or printers, i see why you'd want to *make* it work. (although my printer comment is kind of the opposite...) for replaceables that are (comparatively) cheaper (razors) i think it'd be best to replace them outright when u save up enough money.

Now that I have a job, I’m ready to start investing in reusable stuff that’ll last me a long time. It hurts to pay more up front, but I prefer to know the item will last a good while! And buying second hand also is the best. I’m glad the stigma is going away, since you can give things a second chance at life. It hurts to throw things away, so I like knowing they’ll continue to bring someone happiness after being donated!

absolutely! investing in products that are more expensive but more durable/reusable will save you a lot of money in the long run

Lamps: Just don't tolerate anything, where the light bulb or LED bulb can't be unscrewed and replaced. If you have some communist country nearby, get the light bulbs from there. Narva GDR and USSR bulbs rocking since more than 30 years!

do those bulbs take a long time to burn out (or do they not burn out entirely)?

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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2023 @895.93 »

do those bulbs take a long time to burn out (or do they not burn out entirely)?

Well, they aren't indestructible. One USSR bulb burned through when the lamp, while it was turned on, fell over and I caught it. Light bulbs don't like being shaken I think. However one 35 year old Narva lamp from East Germany is in use since 5 years. I think communist economies are good at making reliable low-tech stuff. The number of Simson and Schwalbe motocycles from the GDR era that are still in daily use is enormous (in current eastern part of Germany to be honest). Those old motocycles are a paradise for replacements as well.

Another "super replaceable" I'd like to recommend are washable handkerchiefs. A thin piece of cloth that you carry with you. When you used it and return home, put it in the washing machine and take another one. I know, this has fallen out of fashion, however this saves an awful lot of trash.
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2023 @945.38 »

I use water filters (Brita too), for the same reasons, and I gotta say, I prefer replacing one filter every month rather than drink up a 1,5 l water bottle every day (we drink a lot of water in this household). The amount of water bottles in the recycling bin was starting to get shameful  :drat: I cannot blame myself for needing to drink, but I couldn't stop thinking "there must be a better way to do this!". And then I got a Brita jug from a friend who wasn't using it for years and found a nice local place that sells filters for relatively cheap. That said, I'd love to know if I can get more use out of them. I know never replacing them isn't an option, either, those things can only do their job for so long  :sad:
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