Business models, disposable household cleaners, and marketing gone awry

I have been seeing a lot more of these inane new products arriving on the market. You know the ones, disposable dish washing pads (my old cloths have been working fine for YEARS), and now disposable toilet cleaning units. Clean it once and then toss it into the landfill. This was really starting to grate me but it turns out that it grated Mark Morford even more so he wrote another of his brilliantly ascerbic and dead-on diatribes against this new development.


See? Life is easier already. Who knew you needed a new toilet brush to replace that tough metal one you had that lasted years? No one, that’s who! What was wrong with the old, sturdy kind? Nothing, that’s what! Hail marketing!

 Dear sweet Jesus in sterilized heaven, why have we all been washing dishes using those positively archaic reusable scrub pads? Won’t someone please invent a single-use, pretreated disposable scrubber that looks like a large feminine sanitary pad and is made of some frightening paper/plastic compound and coated in thick gobs of foaming chemicals and mysterious toxins that you use once on your lasagna pan and then throw away so you have to buy a new box of the damnable things every week?


From the persepective of an environmentalist, I understand the desire to really think about these things and to hope against hope that this past twenty years of awareness raising has had some effect.

From the persepective of a business man, I also understand what these companies are thinking. They look jealously across the aisle at the razor blade section and think,

“Man, those guys really nailed it. Sell the razor once and then the blades for life. Each customer is worth at least a kajillion dollars.”

You can just picture the marketing meeting when somebody said, “Hey wait a minute! Let’s make crappier cheaper handles for all of our devices and then sell them brushes and scrubber units and then we’ll also make a kajillion dollars per customer and flatten out our revenue spikes!!!” Brilliant. Except that many people, myself included have learned that life is a series of trade-offs and priorities and that not all ideas that are great business ideas, should be implemented because they conflict with other priorities such as not needlessly filling the landfill with crap.