Visualizing the true lifespan of common household products
By Marilyn Vinch
The lifespan of the food and household products that we buy is far from intuitive. A wide range of factors can affect how long it is ideal to hang onto certain items, including the kind of use they get, what they’re made of, and safety concerns. That bottle of insect repellant that you dig out to take on holiday with you each year may seem a safe bet, and probably it would last four or five years judged on volume alone; but in fact, it will become ineffective after just a couple of years due to the expiration dates of the chemicals.
Similarly, the child seat you keep in the car for your young ones to use may have been passed from child to child, and even generation to generation, to save money on buying a new one with each new introduction to the family. In fact, these seats may become flawed and even dangerous after around five or six years. Every car seat is different, and you should check with the manufacturer: but the truth is, they become less safe with repeated wear, and may even no longer meet official safety standards.
Of course, it works both ways, and most households throw out perfectly good food and gadgets because they don’t realize just how hardy some of these items are. You could be saving money in the home and workplace with more awareness of how long these things last. The data visualization below makes a marvelous job of interpreting the unexpected longevity of many such products, so that you can check at a glance to see where positive changes can be made.
From the disposable razor, which should actually be thrown out after just two weeks use, to mighty motor oil – which can last indefinitely – take a look over this handsome guide to the true expiry days of common household items.
Click here for a bigger version of this chart
About Marilyn Vinch