In between dodging spikey umbrella tips which always seemed to be at his eye level, he saw bins full of discarded brollies. These cheap throwaway items were often bought, broken and binned in the space of one downpour. Realising that there was a huge opportunity to do better, Greig became obsessed with creating an umbrella that could stand the test of time.
It took years of development and countless prototypes to create it: the Blunt Umbrella. Today, over a million have been sold in countries all over the world.
When a product is that successful, whilst retailing for five to ten times the price of its competitors, you wonder - what exactly sets it apart?
Let's delve into the technical stuff.
We’ve all had run-ins with cheap, flimsy umbrellas. Each time we buy one - usually when we get caught short in a downpour - we know they’re headed for the bin. All it will take is a particularly sharp gust of wind.
There are two main design flaws in disposable umbrellas:
Greig Brebner’s breakthrough came when he invented the ingenious patented Blunt Tip™, which eliminated both of these weak points. The tips of the Blunt umbrella unfold like mini umbrellas themselves, within little pockets at the canopy edge. Like every component of the Blunt umbrella, they serve multiple purposes:
The Blunt’s tight canopy creates a stable shape for wind to flow across it. It’s also a little flatter than your average brolly, making it yet more aerodynamic. All this ensures you’re not fighting with a flapping, rattling brolly in a gusty downpour, but instead protected by a strong and sturdy canopy.
The Blunt’s frame has been engineered to a T. Its extra reinforcing elements serve multiple purposes, to add maximum strength whilst staying lightweight. The materials have been specially chosen to withstand the wide variety of stresses an umbrella endures. This all results in an umbrella that’s strong enough to endure a lifetime of wear and tear.
Blunt Umbrellas are also resistant to turning inside out, and will only do so under pretty harsh conditions. If this does happen, they can simply be flipped back without any harm coming to the umbrella’s structure.
Every single Blunt undergoes a rigorous quality control check before being sent to its final destination. Manufactured responsibly near Xiamen in China, Blunt Umbrellas are produced in a factory that was originally set up by a famous German umbrella maker. Today, the factory is run by a Taiwanese company that has specialised in umbrellas for over 50 years.
Blunt chose this factory for their stellar international reputation for quality - and it shows. Working towards the highest manufacturing standards, Blunt work closely with their partners, to ensure a zero compromise approach.
Blunt umbrellas aren’t just designed for strength and performance - repairability is built into them too. Blunt sell replacement parts on their website, so you can try fixing yours at home. But if you’re not feeling handy, simply send yours off to get repaired by their engineers.
It’s all part of their commitment to designing things that last. Blunt have built something that’s ridiculously strong and beautifully engineered - but if it does break, they’re committed to keeping their products out of landfill for as long as possible.
Blunt offer an impressive two year free repairs warranty on their umbrellas as standard. We’re offering our customers 5 years - and we’ll foot the bill. And years down the line, if your umbrella breaks out of warranty, repairs by Blunt come at a very fair price.
The business model of the umbrella world relies on repeat purchases. In other words, you’ll spend more money on something you have to keep replacing. Umbrellas are a classic case of planned obsolescence, which creates a highly frustrating customer experience. And from an environmental perspective, what could be more irresponsible than mass producing products that are destined for landfill?
Blunt are disrupting an industry that is heavily dependent on us buying items for short-term use. Investing in an umbrella that will last for years is a small way in which we can make more considered purchases. And - you'll never have to chuck another brolly in the bin again.
Shop the full range of Blunt umbrellas here.
Read about our other long-lasting alternatives to throwaway items.
You might even recognise us from a story on ‘The rise of of Buy Me Once shopping’ that went viral in The Telegraph in 2016 and gathered traction worldwide.
Since then our story has been featured in:
In 2018, our founder Tara Button wrote A Life Less Throwaway: a book on how to have a more meaningful relationship with the stuff in your life, explaining the value in buying for the long term. Tara has also had regular spot on BBC Radio and been featured on The Minimalist Podcast.
Join the Buy for Life movement here.
There are certain items in our lives that we buy again and again without giving it much thought. We often aren’t afforded many options besides purchasing a quick, cheap replacement. They are so embedded in our routines that when they break, we don’t go to the drawing board to research a better product, but instead settle on a convenient solution.
It will often take a step back to realise how much we're spending on these items. Something that’s cheaper in the short term is rarely more economical than getting a better quality product that will last much longer.
Perhaps you’re accustomed to replacing your earphones every year, or your toaster. Or maybe you find yourself always buying socks because they wear through in a matter of months.
Buying for life saves money, time and waste. Here are 10 fantastic long-lasting alternatives to common throwaway items, all independently researched and tested by us.
There’s a reason why the umbrella has clawed its way to the top of this list. An old advertising adage is that we buy the most umbrellas on the rainiest day of the year. One wind tunnel is usually enough to turn a cheap pharmacy umbrella inside out.
We’d like to see more people making umbrella purchases on sunny days - so you can be prepared with a really good brolly, without getting caught out. We’ve found Blunt, who are doing umbrellas a little differently. With a high-tension canopy and super-strong structure, these have been tested in 70mph winds. They’re even repairable - and we’ll foot the bill for 5 years of repairs.
We've all bought a cheap toaster in our day. The failure points are familiar: the lever won’t stay down, one side won’t toast, the eject button stops working. You may be familiar with British heritage brand Dualit - but did you know that their award-winning Classic toasters are built to be repaired again and again?
Not only that, they’re still made in Dualit’s original West Sussex factory. Originally designed for the catering industry, Dualit toasters are well-known for lasting decades. That, and making perfect toast every time.
Do your jeans always bust in the same places? Try a pair made of stronger stuff and invest in Blackhorse Lane Ateliers raw denim. Made in London from only the best heavyweight denims, these jeans shape and fade with the contours of your body. Blackhorse Lane will even repair your jeans for free - for life!
Darn Tough socks are made with merino wool and, incredibly, are guaranteed for life. If your sock develops a hole, you simply need to send them back to your nearest Darn Tough warehouse, and they'll send you another pair for free. They’re not just the toughest socks out there - they’re also the comfiest and best. Merino wool has temperature regulating and moisture wicking properties, and is even antimicrobial. The last socks you’ll ever need - really!
Investing in good basics makes a lot of sense when you realise you wear them every day. The White T-Shirt Company specialises in perfecting the basics, all in heavyweight organic cotton. No misshapen necklines or bobbly fabric here - every White T-Shirt Company garment is guaranteed for life.
It’s a horrible feeling when your headphones break - always at the plug end of the wire! These high-spec headphones by AIAIAI have a modular build, meaning if one element breaks, you can simply replace one part instead of discarding the whole unit. This also means you can easily upgrade your headphones’ speakers, or even change to Bluetooth. We developed a super-tough version with AIAIAI which comes with an exclusive 4 year warranty.
Don't buy yet another flaky non-stick pan; upgrade to a Solidteknics iron skillet instead! Complete with an incredible multi-century warranty, these pans are made from one seamless piece of wrought iron. They cook and season just like traditional heavy cast iron skillets, but at half the weight. Their signature satin surface is designed to hold seasoning, and their vented handles stay cool. This is cookware to hand down from generation to generation.
Our range of French Duralex tumblers are made from ultra-durable tempered glass, in instantly-recognisable classic styles. They're shock resistant, thermal shock resistant and virtually unbreakable. But if they do break, Duralex shatters safely, leaving no dangerous jagged edges.
Even mid-range leather belts will eventually get worn away and break at the hole you usually use. Instead of leather, Elvis & Kresse make belts from reclaimed British fire hose. Tough, bold and sustainable, these belts even come with a lifetime repair promise. And what’s more, 50% of Elvis & Kresse’s profits are donated to charities such as The Fire Fighters Charity.
Tired of your children's shoes falling apart after just a few weeks? These comfy, supportive and durable shoes by Term are made from supple full grain leather. Designed to help young feet grow healthily, Term’s fashionable designs will also appeal to kids of all ages. These are shoes that children will outgrow, not wear out.
Check out our Bestsellers list, which represents the most popular durable products we have to offer.
Pancakes are universally loved, but unless you’re particularly obsessed, you probably don’t get to make them every weekend. You may have spotted our fantastic Seamless Iron Crepe Pan by Solidteknics and thought, “if only I made pancakes more often!” (we feel your pain). But whilst this brilliant bit of cookware certainly makes a perfect pancake, don’t be misled by its name. With its flat shape and solid iron construction, a crepe pan lends itself to all sorts of uses.
This week we're offering 15% off the Solidteknics Crepe Pan - and we want you to get inspired to get as much use from this pan as possible.
From crispy fried eggs to pizzas, your durable crepe pan is actually a multi-talented kitchen workhorse. We find the versatility it possesses is often undersold - there’s so much you can do with a flat, low-walled, oven-ready griddling surface! Here are five pancakeless dishes the Buy Me Once team cook with their crepe pans:
Made from one seamless piece of solid wrought iron, this crepe pan makes the perfect searing surface. It can climb to screaming hot temperatures, holding its heat without warping or creating hot spots. This makes it ideal for creating a smokey seared crust on a steak, a piece of fish or even firm tofu.
Top tip: to ensure even cooking, always take your steaks out of the fridge in advance so they can get to room temperature prior to searing.
If you’d rather not buy a huge electric toastie maker (it certainly won’t have a multi-century warranty), the crepe pan makes beautiful toasted sandwiches in a doddle. Simply craft your sandwich, butter the external sides of the bread and fry gently until melty and delicious. The crepe pan can also be happily placed inside the oven - so why not top with extra cheese and grill, for an indulgent croque monsieur?
Top tip: keep the temperature at a medium-low heat so that the contents of your toastie can heat through before the bread burns.
Due to its ability to hold heat, the crepe pan works brilliantly as a pizza stone inside any oven. The slight ridge around the edge of the pan ensures your crust will sit up slightly to contain all your toppings, without spillover. At 24cm, it makes a perfect pizza for one person - and once it’s hot, you can churn one out every few minutes! Due to its flat shape, pizzas can gracefully slide off the crepe pan with ease.
Top tip: Pre-heating your crepe pan in the oven will ensure your pizza’s crust cooks at the same rate as the toppings. It’s the difference between getting a nice crisp bottom, and soggy raw dough in the middle.
You may have assumed that a non-stick pan is the best tool for the job when it comes to frying eggs. But have you heard of the crispy egg method? It’s a game-changing technique that involves getting your pan really hot over a medium heat, then adding olive oil (which should smoke immediately), before cracking in your eggs with generous seasoning. The eggs splutter, bubble and crispen, and become something really magical. Try it!
Non-stick pans won’t do the job here, firstly because they can’t withstand very high temperatures, but also because their water-repellant properties make it hard for them to create a proper crisp crust on foods. The Solidteknics crepe pan’s solid iron construction is ideal, as well as its flat shape, which makes sliding your eggs onto your plate a doddle.
Top tip: as well as a generous grind of salt and pepper, have you ever tried sprinkling dried mixed herbs and pepper flakes onto your fried eggs?
From Indian chapatis to Mexican tortillas, freshly-made flatbreads are a fantastic accompaniment to many meals, and perfect to make with children. Because flatbreads don’t need to rise, most recipes tend to be incredibly simple - basic flatbreads just require flour, water, salt and oil. Then simply knead your dough, divide into balls, roll out and dry-fry. The crepe pan makes an ideal surface to get them puffy and lightly blackened in minutes.
Top tip: combine butter with crushed garlic, chopped herbs or chilli flakes and brush onto your freshly-made flatbreads. Yum!
Seeing as we’ve made it this far down the list whilst avoiding pancakes, we might as well give you the rundown on how to make the perfect crepe. Everyone’s got their own method, but here’s a basic recipe you can rely on time and time again. This recipe should make 10-12 pancakes in total.
This week we’re offering 15% off the Solidteknics Seamless Iron Crepe Pan! Tweet us @buymeonce to let us know how you use yours.
Not sure whether you’re ready to make the change to iron pans? Check out our article on how to season and maintain your iron cookware.
It’s not easy to harness the power of smoke and flames in cooking. Whereas a stovetop delivers consistent heat that you can control with the turn of a dial, searing your food over an open fire can be a gamble. It feels positively primitive, not to mention very exciting.
Cooking with fire delivers flavour you simply can’t get from a hob. Consider flame-grilled lamb skewers, charred peppers, smoky aubergines and barbecued steaks. Cooking virtually anything over hot coals is a surefire way to take its flavour to the next level.
This magic is what inspired the latest innovation from Australian cookware engineers Solidteknics, makers of the toughest and best-performing pans we’ve ever seen (and equally loved by our customers). Whilst you may be familiar with their classic frying pans, the Solidteknics Barbecue Pan (otherwise known as a flaming skillet) features CNC-milled perforations in its base to let smoke and flames penetrate food. It’s the ultimate tool for capturing smoky flavour.
Whereas regular pans can warp when placed over a fierce open heat source (such as a woodchip or coal fire) this is where the barbecue pan is in its element. Made from robust 3mm wrought iron, it makes the perfect searing surface. You can chuck it straight onto the coals, or for optimum heat, hold the pan a couple of inches above the fire. Just make sure to get it nice and hot before adding food, and rest assured the ingenious vented handle will stay cool.
The barbecue pan nests perfectly into our bestselling Solidteknics 26cm seamless frying pan. So for large pieces of meat such as thick ribeye steaks or chicken legs, you can sear the meat over a fire, before placing the two pans together to finish cooking in an oven. The perforations also let resting juices drain away from the meat without being lost.
Whilst this pan may appear to be a specialist’s tool, it’s actually surprisingly versatile. Even if you don’t find yourself cooking on an open fire too often, it makes a perfect addition to any regular barbecue - simply place it on top and allow it to heat up. Because the holes in the bottom of the pan are smaller than the gaps in a normal wire rack, you can safely cook small food items such as prawns, mushrooms and asparagus without worrying about losing them to the coals below.
Delicate items such as fish can also be cooked much more easily - and fish is undoubtedly one of the most underrated barbecue foods out there. Whilst we all love a sausage and a burger, every once in a while why not treat yourself to a next-level barbecue with steak, lamb or a side of salmon? This is where that delicious smoky aroma really makes a difference.
Furthermore, the barbecue pan works great over a regular gas stove - ideal for charring peppers and aubergines in the kitchen. Babaganoush anyone?
Like all Solidteknics pans, the barbecue pan is a lifetime investment (and then some) coming complete with a multi-century warranty. Each one is engraved with the month and year of its manufacture, so that future generations using it can see when it was made. Make the most of summers present and future, and harness the magic of open fire cooking!
Instead of heavy cast iron, Solidteknics AUS-ION™ pans are made of stronger wrought iron, offering the same functionality but with much less material. These thinner and lighter pans are far more user-friendly, changing the classic skillet. But don’t be fooled, these pans are still heavy duty.
We’re no strangers to lifetime guarantees, but Solidteknics go the extra mile - these pans are covered by an incredible multi-century warranty. We've never seen anything like it, which makes it a great indicator of a company that has ultimate confidence in their product. In fact, every pan is engraved with its date of manufacture as a record for future generations who will keep on using it!
Made from one seamless piece of low-carbon wrought iron, these pans are incredibly strong and have no rivets to come loose or collect dirt or grime. The long, ergonomic handle stays cool due to the venting holes, minimising the risk of burned hands.
Even with careful use, synthetic nonstick coatings eventually degrade, resulting in harmful substances being ingested and a pan that’s built to break. Seasoning iron is a simple process which involves baking on layers of oil, which polymerises it. It’s a non-toxic and renewable nonstick you build yourself!
Once working well and seasoned generously, your seamless frying pan won't take much elbow grease to clean. This is because the quality of the non-stick is such that the toughest and grimiest stains will come off quickly. This is of course assuming you clean it shortly after you've finished cooking.
As soon as Solidteknics appeared on the market, top chefs quickly realised that this Australian company had revolutionised cookware. Their pans are more durable and perform better than riveted steel pans, lighter and stronger than cast iron. They're sold all around the world, but Buy Me Once is the exclusive seller in the UK. In fact one of our customers verified the sturdiness of the pan through her husband, who happens to be a blacksmith! Amazing.
At some time or another, you’ve probably had a run-in with a cheap toaster that was only built to break.
The kind of price point you can expect for a toaster now is seriously astounding. At the time of writing, Argos is selling a two-slot toaster on its website for just £9.99. But as we all know, the true cost lies in these shoddily-made items using up resources, before being sent straight to landfill after a matter of months.
Toasters, by nature, can be prone to breaking. They have many moving parts, draw a lot of energy and are subject to all sorts of things being jammed into them (namely irregular chunks of bread or a risky butter knife). The failure points are familiar: the lever won’t stay down, one side won’t toast, the eject button stops working. Repair is out of the question, as the unit hasn’t been built for disassembly - and at such a low price point, why bother?
So, in the bin it goes. Certainly, spending a tenner on a toaster once or twice a year doesn’t seem like bad value, but the environmental implications are quite chilling. Whatever happened to well-made things?
British engineering legends Dualit are one of those rare companies proving to us that the old adage ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’ isn’t always the case. They’ve been around since 1945, and the durable toasters in their Classic range are still handbuilt in West Sussex - each toaster has the name of the person who assembled it on its underside.
This father and son company believe firmly in well-made products that are made to last, and they have a slough of awards to prove it. That, and endless testimonials from people who have had their classic toasters for years - generations even - and still making perfect toast.
Originally designed for the catering industry, Dualit classic toasters have been made to withstand the demands of a commercial kitchen. However, their performance and longevity, combined with a beautiful utilitarian design, has caused them to become incredibly popular as a domestic product too. To this day, the Dualit Classic Toaster is considered a design icon - and half of all Dualit products are still bought by commercial restaurants and hotels.
In stark contrast to the prevailing trend of planned obsolescence we’re seeing in all sorts of appliances, items from Dualit's Classic range are made to be repaired, not thrown away. Because the toasters are hand-built by people and not machines, each part is held together with visible screws. This system not only makes the toaster robust, it’s also easy to disassemble and repair - a service Dualit provides for a very fair fee. Spare parts are also readily available on Dualit’s website, so if you’re handy, you can even do it yourself.
The mechanical nature of a Dualit helps give it a long life. Contemporary electronically-controlled toasters contain a circuit board, with an automatic ‘pop-up’ mechanism. The Dualit Classic toasters, on the other hand, employ a mechanical timer and manual lever to lift the toast from the slots. This means simpler repairs, less to go wrong and a satisfying clunky feel that you just can’t replicate by other means.
The crowning achievement of Dualit’s toaster innovations is their patented ProHeat element, which has earned the company a Millenium award. It has a high density of heating wires in the element, which creates speedy and even toasting. Unlike a regular heating element, which is left exposed, Dualit’s are armour-plated with a layer of mica, protecting the heating wire from damage.
Dualit engineer their elements out of the highest grade of mica (a naturally-occurring silica compound which can have impurities). This is crucial to the performance of the toaster: no impurities means no hotspots. Hotspots not only cause uneven toasting, but might spell an untimely death for your toaster’s element.
Beyond repairability and next-level heating elements, Dualit have managed to pack a whole load of features into their classic toasters, without resorting to bells and whistles.
Although best-known for their toasting expertise, Dualit have a whole range of products which they’ve applied their engineering principles to. From kettles to coffee machines, every Dualit product has been made with function and longevity in mind.
The multi-patented Classic Kettle, for instance, features a replaceable heating element that means you could feasibly have your kettle for decades. It’s quiet too - Dualit’s Whisper Boil™ function has been awarded the Quiet Mark by the Noise Abatement Society. Combined with superfast heating, a precision-engineered non-drip spout, extra-durable hinged lid and double measuring windows (for cups or litres!), it seems as if Dualit have thought of everything.
“No frills. No gimmicks. No compromise.” That’s the Dualit ethos. Dualit’s hard-won reputation in the catering industry has resulted in products that are built to last, where performance comes first and reliability is an integral part of their design. Perhaps this freedom from consumer trends is how the company has managed to stay independent, family-owned and UK-based.
Finding a Buy Me Once electrical appliance is a challenge, and companies like Dualit are becoming rarer than ever. When you can buy a toaster for a tenner, it’s not hard to understand why consumers have stopped thinking about long-term value. However, it’s not just about saving money across the decades you could have your Dualit Classic toaster for. It’s about having a product that performs exceptionally well, that you look after and cherish, that you know isn’t destined for the bin.
Shop the Dualit range here.
To claim that a pair of socks could last you a lifetime sounds a lot like wishful thinking. Repeat purchasing socks just seems like a fact of life - they’re fairly cheap, do the job and are retired after a couple of years once the toe or heel gives in. People don’t expect anything more because honestly, how life-changing can a pair of socks ever be?
Enter Vermont sock experts Darn Tough, who are determined to answer that question with a resounding ‘very’.
A family-run business that - like so many companies we love - makes just one thing and does it right, Darn Tough make merino wool socks that go above and beyond in three categories: Comfort, Durability and Fit. And they’re just as well-known for their no-strings-attached lifetime guarantee as their outstanding product. If your sock wears out, send them back for a free new pair - no questions asked.
Exploiting the best attributes of merino wool to make a true performance sock, Darn Toughs are well-known for keeping your feet cool in the heat, warm in the cold, free of blisters, less sweaty and even odourless. As you’d expect, they’re tough to boot - Darn Tough customers often speak of pairs they’ve had for ten years or more, still going strong despite regular use.
All this is probably why Darn Tough socks are military issued in the U.S, and certified by the armed forces for quality. If you’re hiking miles every day with a heavy pack, avoiding swampy, blistered feet is an absolute necessity. As well as thick boot socks, Darn Tough craft more lightweight models for everyday wear and sports, all guaranteed for life.
Why merino wool?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a wool sock equals hot, prickly and thick - a recipe for sweaty and itchy feet. However, merino wool is another ball game entirely. This natural fibre used to be found almost exclusively in performance sportswear, prized for its lightness, breathability and wicking properties. Now widely available in everyday clothing, merino wool shines brightest in the form of the humble sock.
Even in the heat of summer, merino’s natural temperature regulating properties and lack of itchiness give Darn Tough socks their ‘forget-it’s-there’ lightness. Fast action wicking pulls moisture away from the skin, absorbing as much as 30 percent of its weight without feeling wet. Merino is even naturally antimicrobial, keeping your feet from smelling. Soldiers and hikers testify that Darn Tough socks stay fresh for days and days without washing, a feature that has been described as ‘seriously uncanny’.
Anyone who spends any amount of time wearing clammy cotton socks is likely to love the switch to merino wool. But these socks will be a real game changer for people who:
Of course, merino wool isn’t the full answer as to why Darn Tough socks can be both comfy and durable. What sets this company apart is their dedication to taking their craft to the next level. Using very very fine merino thread, their state-of-the-art 168-needle knitting machines produce an average of 1441 stitches per square inch, creating a sock that’s denser and stronger. Reinforced with nylon and with Lycra spandex for stretch, these are socks that will go the extra mile.
Another innovation is the True Seamless™ undetectable seam fusion. Whilst most socks will have some kind of thick stitch on top of the toes, sealing the tube of fabric, Darn Tough socks have managed to create a barely-there join that’s completely smooth to feel.
The perfect fit
Choosing the correct size is absolutely crucial not just for a comfortable sock, but one that will last. Too small and they’ll feel tight and wear away at the toe; too big and they’ll bunch up and rub. This is why Darn Tough go to every length to ensure accurate sizing for the long term - they’re pre-shrunk with an initial wash, and even mechanically pre-stretched. Every single sock is fitted over a template to ensure it’s the exact right size.
The secret to making the ultimate sock lies partly in performance materials and high-tech construction. But there’s another, more straightforward part of the recipe - and that’s meticulous, repeated, exhaustive quality control checks. The smallest of defects can become a hole years down the line, so Darn Tough’s dedicated inspection team checks each sock leaving the factory for miniscule mistakes in the knit.
Darn Tough are a family-owned business - going on three generations - that makes every single product from back to front in Northfield, Vermont. This is why they're big fans of the phrase, “nobody ever outsourced anything for quality”. By keeping their entire production line in-house, they have complete control over their product. And with a guarantee like theirs, you can see why they need to be careful.
A guarantee like no other
Here at Buy Me Once, we’re no stranger to a lifetime guarantee. Lifetime guarantees are a great indicator of quality and an assurance that a manufacturer stands by their product - but they’re usually full of caveats. They don’t tend to cover regular wear and tear, only assuring against manufacturing defects, and sometimes they actually refer to the natural lifetime of the product, not the owner!
We’ve never seen a guarantee like Darn Tough’s. When their socks - eventually - do wear out, all you need to do is fill out a form and post them back to one of their many international fulfilment centers. You’ll get another pair sent to you for free in just a few days. How the business can continue to stand by this unconditional promise is a mystery to us, but one thing is for certain - every Darn Tough sock is a lifetime investment.
We’ve seen lots of brands who, having built a reputation for being the best, end up decreasing drastically in quality - a result of outsourcing their manufacturing to keep up with demand. We feel confident that Darn Tough’s buy-for-life socks won’t meet the same fate. Why? Darn Tough have made the ultimate performance sock, yet they still think they can do better. One of their principles is: “We have yet to produce our best sock.”
Shop the Darn Tough range here.
Socks are one of those things we tend not to think about until something goes wrong. Holes in toes are irritating for an entire day, and losing a favoured sock can be a tragedy. Because socks are pretty cheap, we don’t tend to give their longevity a lot of thought.
But how long are socks supposed to last? And is it ever possible to have a pair of socks for life?
Unlike a favourite jacket or pair of boots, socks seem to be increasingly viewed as a semi-disposable necessity rather than a product worth caring for. Admittedly, socks are much easier to lose. But there’s a financial and environmental toll to the relationship we have with socks. The average Brit supposedly owns 17 pairs of socks, and loses 1.3 socks a month - costing each of us £2,528 over a lifetime.
The UK spends over £1 billion in socks a year, and sock longevity will also be contributing to our incredible turnover. Most people don’t expect their socks to last more than a year, but after reaching out to our Buy Me Once community - most of you are able to keep your socks for between 2-6 years. Nice going!
If you’re looking to have a more meaningful relationship with your possessions, and save yourself some money, then look no further than this guide we’ve put together with our community:
Don’t underestimate a good fit when it comes to prolonging the life of your socks. A sock that’s too small will stretch over your foot, stressing the fabric and causing more holes - particularly on the toes. A sock that’s too big will bunch up and rub against your shoes where they shouldn’t. Shoes that fit you well are also a big factor, as they’ll minimise friction.
Actively look for that second sock when you find yourself putting a solitary sock back in your drawer. If you don’t intervene now, it’s unlikely you’ll remember to find it later! Make sure each pair enters the washing machine together too. Our fans also had a good tip for sock storage - don’t roll them inside-out as it damages and stretches the elastic. A simple fold will do.
Hopefully this one is self explanatory!
We heard a lot of you saying the best way to prevent lost socks is to dry them on a clothes rack inside - this prevents any chance of discovering them when you’re digging the back corner of the garden several months later. Also, not putting them in the dryer prevents them from shrinking or damaging their elasticity.
Learning how to repair socks is really worthwhile. Socks tend to be made of thin material and experience a lot of hardship, but that doesn’t have to mean a hole spells the end of their life. Instead of creating an uncomfortable sewn seam, darning creates a woven patch to repair a hole - and it's easier than it sounds.
Buy Me Once brand Socko create gorgeous socks made from high-quality waste merino wool - and they’re on a mission to empower people to learn how to darn. Included in each pair of socks are simple instructions on how to darn, a needle and a colour-matched yarn. Countless socks are thrown away when a 10 minute darning session would save them - give it a try!
You knew we’d say it, but next time you’re in the market for a new pair of socks, do yourself a favour and get some that will last. You’re in for a better sock experience that will save you much more money in the long run. Our favourite sock brand Darn Tough make fantastically durable merino wool socks that are covered by a really outstanding lifetime guarantee. If your socks wear out, simply post them back for a free pair.
Not only are these socks made for life, they are also the most comfortable we’ve tried. Darn Toughs are made predominantly from non-itchy merino wool, which gives them their uncanny ability to keep your feet cool, dry and odour-free. They’re beautifully seamless, fit like a dream and made by a family-run company in Vermont who are sticklers for quality.
Darn Tough really epitomises what we look for in a Buy Me Once product. An everyday item - one that we would usually throw away without batting an eyelid - made exceptionally durable whilst delivering a great experience, with a guarantee to back it all up.
Shop the Darn Tough range of merino wool socks for hiking, running and everyday here.
Shop the Socko range of waste wool socks here.
Compared to stainless steel pans or non-stick, working with iron - including cast iron, wrought iron or black iron (carbon steel) - is a whole other ball game. Used bare, iron will rust and your food will stick to its surface. But with a little TLC, iron pans offer truly unparalleled performance and durability.
If you’ve just purchased a wrought iron Solidteknics pan, or perhaps you’ve been considering a cast iron skillet - or maybe you’ve already got one that needs some love - our Research Team has the answers to keep your pan in top shape.
Follow this guide for straightforward advice on how to season, wash and use your iron pan. You’ll be passing down the knowledge - and the pan! - to future generations.
Seasoning in this instance has nothing to do with herbs and spices, and it doesn’t involve ‘flavouring’ the pan or having a greasy skillet that you refuse to wash. Seasoning at its essence is a layer of baked-on oil that both protects the iron and gives the cooking surface non-stick properties. It’s what makes the pans black - bare cast iron is a dull grey that will quickly rust. When a thin layer of oil is taken to a high heat, it hardens - a process called polymerisation.
Polymerised oil is a completely natural non-stick surface that’s also renewable. Whereas synthetic non-stick coated pans must be thrown away when the coating starts flaking, iron can be seasoned again and again, and the seasoning just gets better with use. Most cast iron (as well as Solidteknics pans) comes lightly pre-seasoned with oil. However, we advise you follow these steps to add two to three more layers before you prep your first meal. Carbon steel pans usually come without pre-seasoning.
A seasoning cycle simply involves wiping a very thin layer of oil on your pan, heating it up, letting it bake on and then allowing it to cool. People season their pans in different ways, and if you do your research you’re likely to find a few different methods. Most of them will work fine, but we’ve outlined two foolproof methods for building up layers gradually.
You can season your pan either on the hob or in the oven. It’s a straightforward process, but takes a little time so we don’t recommend trying to squeeze this in on a weeknight before dinner.
The oven technique is our preferred method, as it’s a bit easier and creates less smoke. However, if your pan doesn’t fit in the oven or if it has a wooden handle, the hob will yield the same results, and in less time.
NB: only attempt this method in a well-ventilated kitchen!
There is some debate over what oil is best to season a pan with. Whilst most cast iron manufacturers pre-season with canola (rapeseed) oil, many experts say grapeseed oil makes the best seasoning - slick and durable. Others prefer traditional animals fats or even butter. Olive oil is a no-no - the seasoning it makes degrades at high temperatures due to its low smoke point.
Generally, any neutral-flavoured cooking oil with a fairly high smoke point will make a good seasoning. For the particular seasoning methods we’ve outlined above, vegetable oil (which is rapeseed) will work well.
Iron pans can hold heat exceptionally well and create a perfect searing surface, making them particularly good for cooking meat and frying. The first couple of times you use your skillet, many recommend frying bacon or something fatty in order to thoroughly develop the seasoning.
Iron pans are very versatile, but the one thing to be avoided is acidic foods, such as tomato sauces. Cooking acidic food in an iron pan that’s fairly new will strip the seasoning, and result in discoloration and metallic-tasting food. However, a really well-seasoned pan will be able to handle these foods without a problem, as the polymerised oil forms a protective barrier.
There’s some debate too over the best way to clean a skillet. Whilst you need to take care not to scrub off that precious seasoning layer, iron pans can and should be cleaned thoroughly. A good technique is to run the pan under very hot water - preferably whilst it’s still warm - and scrape off any food with a spatula or brush. Use soap if necessary, but stick to light soaps and use sparingly. Don’t use metal scourers or harsh detergents, as they’ll damage seasoning.
Dry and lightly oil your pan immediately after washing to prevent rusting. One spot of water can create a rust spot, so we recommend drying it over the hob to be thorough.
A general rule of thumb when cleaning iron is to minimise the cleaning time - get it done from start to finish in one go. Don’t let your pan soak for more than five minutes, or air dry it on your rack. Never place iron in the dishwasher.
The seasoning on your pan will just get better and better with use, but it may require another dedicated seasoning session if you notice the layer flaking or getting scratched off. If you notice any rust spots, these can be removed with a metal scourer and the pan reseasoned. Even if a pan has been soaked overnight and is completely covered in rust, it can be salvaged - though it will take some work!
Cast iron, though heavy and solid, is a fairly brittle material. Try to avoid taking it to extremes of temperature too quickly, for instance by quenching a hot pan with cold water - it could crack, or warp. Take care not to drop it, too! Wrought iron pans like Solidteknics are tougher than cast iron and are very unlikely to crack, but can still be warped.
Lastly, don’t store leftover food in a pan that isn’t heavily seasoned, unless you like the taste of rust...
If you’re struggling with your pan, we’d love to be able to help you. Check out the Solidteknics site for some extra resources, or if you have a specific question, our Research Team are here to help.
Shop Solidteknics - not your traditional cast iron skillet. These ultra-tough wrought iron pans are half the weight of cast iron and come with a multi-century warranty.
Shop Skeppshult - beautiful Swedish cast iron pans, made in the same foundry 1906. With a concave cooking base that’s perfectly flat when heated.
There’s nothing more satisfying than using a freshly sharpened knife, especially if you’ve been putting up with a blunt one for any length of time. And if you’ve decided to get yourself a really high-quality blade, such as one of our TOG knives, you’re going to want to maintain that edge. After all, what’s the point of investing in a precision instrument, unless it can perform to its fullest capabilities at all times?
As you may have read in our article about the stunning craftsmanship that goes into TOG kitchen knives, these are some ridiculously sharp blades. The cutting edge is made of a specialised high-carbon Japanese steel - ACUTO 440 - which due to its hardness stays sharp for longer. But eventually, all knives become blunt, as microscopic parts of the blade get bent over and chipped with use.
In this guide we cover different kinds of sharpening tools, as well as top tips for keeping your knives in great condition for longer - so that your blades can last for life.
When sharpening your knife blades, always make sure you sharpen the entire length, and that you’re holding the knife at the correct angle. The two most common methods of getting your knife sharp again are with a rod or a whetstone. These actually serve slightly different purposes.
1) Honing rod or sharpening steel
When you use a rod (otherwise known as a sharpening steel or honing rod), the knife’s edge is dragged along the textured rod, which straightens out tiny parts of the edge which are bent over. This straightening process is known as honing, and should be done perhaps once a week.
The honing steel’s surface is also slightly abrasive; how abrasive will vary between different types of rod. This takes away a very small amount of material to sharpen the blade. When using the rod, always pull the knife along it all the way from tip to heel - otherwise, over time, you could create a dip in the knife as the middle part gets ground down.
We’ve got a ceramic honing rod by TOG that has a fine grit, making it perfect for regular use. It even has a shock absorber system which reduces the risk of breakage should you drop it.
Watch the TOG knifemaster’s guide to this type of sharpening:
If a knife has become too blunt for a rod to sharpen effectively, or if it has become chipped, whetstones are a more effective way of grinding material off the blade for sharpening. A whetstone, or sharpening stone, is a porous, hard block with an abrasive surface, usually with a coarser grit on one side and a finer grit on the other side.
Whetstones only need to be used for sharpening every few months. They are incredibly versatile and can sharpen all types of knives, as well as garden tools!
Soak your whetstone before use. It’s important to keep it still, so put a cloth or paper towel underneath it. For sharpening, start with the coarser side; to hone your knife, just use the finer side.
Find the correct angle that the knife should be sharpened at - manufacturers will usually provide this information (TOG knives are sharpened at 10 degrees). Draw the blade down the stone in a wide, circular manner, holding the blade at a constant angle until the tip of the knife runs off the other edge. Repeat several times on each side of the blade, depending on the dullness of the blade, and finish on the finer grit to hone. Again, always sharpen all the way from tip to heel.
Watch the TOG knifemaster’s guide to whetstone sharpening:3) Pull-through/electric sharpeners
Whilst electric and pull-through sharpeners are a quick and easy way to sharpen a knife, they don’t work with all sorts of knives. You have to be careful about matching the type of blade with the sharpener - not just the angle, but whether your knife is single or double beveled. Furthermore, they eventually wear out.
We think it’s worth investing time into learning how to use rods and whetstones - it will take some practice, but it’s not rocket science by any means. You might even find that a Sunday afternoon spent sharpening all your knives becomes a true pleasure!
To keep your blade in the best possible shape, wash and dry knives by hand straight after use with a non-scratch washing up sponge or a cloth. Never leave them to soak. Putting knives in a dishwasher is not advised - for a TOG knife, this will void the lifetime guarantee. Dishwashers stress the handles of knives, encourage corrosion and rattle them against other metal utensils, dulling the blades.
TOG knives contain copper layers within the blades - over time, these may darken as they oxidise. To brighten them back up again, simply rub the blade with half a lemon.
The ideal method of storing knives is either on a magnetic knife rack or in a knife block - these protect the blades from damage, and display the knives well. It’s not ideal to keep knives rattling around in drawers, as they can become scratched and blunt, but if a drawer is your only option then keep them protected with cloths or in their original boxes. If you’re transporting knives, a knife roll will keep them safe and secure.
Whatever you choose, just make sure the blades aren’t being bashed about, and always store your knives dry. Drying your knives straight after washing will prevent tarnishing of any sort, and if you have a wooden knife block, it will stop mould growing on the inside.
Sharpening knives is a fun, empowering and useful skill to learn, and we encourage you to give it a try. However, if you’d rather leave it to the professionals - or perhaps your knife has suffered a particularly nasty chip - you can drop your knife off with a sharpening service. Simply look up local knife sharpening services in your area.
TOG knives have partnered with Scott Mclellan of Sheffield Knife Sharpening, who has sharpened, repaired and restored well over 1000 knives using Japanese whetstones. Find details of the service in our TOG knives care guide.
We hope this guide has helped you feel more confident with maintaining a knife. Regardless of whether you’ve got a cheap kitchen knife or a stunning TOG blade, a little care will go a long way in keeping it performing at its best and lasting longer.
Shop our beautiful range of Japanese-made TOG knives.
Or check out the rest of our high-quality, long-lasting kitchenware.
We’re sure many of you can relate to the fact that once you have your first really good knife, there’s no going back. Whether you’re a blade enthusiast, seasoned chef or blossoming home cook, we know you’ll be curious to find out why we’ve selected TOG knives as our top choice.
This small British company takes ancient Japanese craftsmanship traditions, and uses them to make beautiful knives for the modern kitchen. As always, BuyMeOnce only selects items of outstanding quality, that you’ll find pleasure in using for years to come. And we have to say - TOG knives really go the extra mile.
Prepare to get a bit nerdy with us as we delve into exactly what makes these knives so special, from the unique materials and designs, to the amazing story behind them.
When British designer Bert Beagley-Brown went to Seki, Japan’s samurai sword capital, he was astounded by the level of craftsmanship that could be instilled into a single blade.
Following 800 years of tradition, Bert discovered that the creation of a samurai sword requires eight different craftsmen, each a specialist in just one part of the process. The best swords could take months to make!
By investing patience, time and care, and honing such high levels of expertise in every stage of creation, a whole new level of quality was achievable. So when Bert decided he wanted to develop the best kitchen knives in the world, he knew they had to be made in Seki.
Bert founded TOG, developing knives which are made the slow way. Following the philosophies of the swordmakers, these kitchen knives are passed between eight tiny, specialised companies in Seki. TOG knives elegantly blend old and new, and their handcrafted nature means that each one is slightly different from the next. In celebration of this, a unique number is engraved onto the bolster of each blade.
TOG knives can be found in the restaurants and homes of professionals the world over (including more than ten Michelin star chefs). But what exactly is the difference between a TOG and your run-of the mill kitchen knife?
Layered steel that stays sharp
First of all, TOG’s full tang blades are crafted from unique 21 or 17 layer stainless steels, developed in collaboration with Seki craftsmen after extensive trial and error. The blades have a hard central core steel for sharpness, surrounded by softer steel layers for strength. Samurai swords are made using this same principle.
The core layer, which forms the cutting edge, is a highly specialised, high-carbon Japanese steel - called ACUTO 440 - which has been hardened to HRC 58-60 for edge retention. This means these knives stay razor sharp for much longer. TOG steels also contain alternating layers of copper, giving the knives their beautifully distinctive stripes.
Kebony maple handle
Combining durability and sustainability is TOG’s innovative choice of handle material: Kebony. Developed in Norway, Kebony is responsibly-grown wood that has been given enhanced properties. Using a bio-based liquid derived from agricultural crop waste, the wood’s cell walls are polymerised, making it highly durable, with characteristics similar to tropical hardwood.
Kebony wood doesn’t expand, contract or warp like other woods. As a result, the handle always feels smooth and flush with the full tang blade. This all comes at a minimal environmental cost, whilst still retaining a natural appearance with a beautiful wood grain.
And when it comes to handle design, TOG knives have been shaped to be extra comfortable to hold, with a unique ‘side scoop’ shape for added control. And finally, to celebrate old and new coming together – a key aspect of Japanese culture – a traditional pattern has been laser etched on for grip.
Light and balanced
TOG knives are wickedly sharp and durable, but they have been designed for comfort and ease of use as well. This means making a blade that is perfectly balanced and beautifully lightweight, so that it simply becomes an extension of your hand. No wonder TOG knives are not exclusively domestic blades, but are also found in professional kitchens worldwide where chefs might be prepping food for hours at a time.
A knife for life
TOG know that caring for a knife properly is absolutely crucial to getting the best experience with it and making it last. As well as providing in-depth guides for knife maintenance, they offer a very reasonably-priced sharpening and repair service should you require it. And, should any manufacturing defects or faults come to light, TOG knives are covered by a repair or replace lifetime guarantee.
We love this practical approach to product longevity, offering many ways in which to ensure the knife lasts as long as possible. When treated with love and care, these blades can be handed down from generation to generation.
TOG can afford to have utmost confidence in the blades they make, because it took a long time to perfect them.
When they sent their first ever prototypes to professional kitchens for testing, TOG told the chefs to give them hell. Under the pressures of intense use, materials failed, blades chipped and handles fell off! But with every prototype, TOG kept going back to the chefs - because they knew that when a knife could withstand a professional kitchen, it would be up to the task at home, too. After countless decisions and adjustments, the first TOG knife was perfected - and engraved 001.
Today, TOG knives are loved by home cooks and Michelin star chefs alike. The incredibly sharp blade, outstanding edge retention, beautiful design and balanced comfort all speak for themselves. But, we thought you might like to hear from some professionals.
TOG continue to release new products slowly and deliberately, which has resulted in a tightly focused collection.
TOG also offer an expertly-developed knife sharpener in the form of a ceramic honing rod, for easy and effective knife maintenance.
Intrigued? Visit the outstanding TOG knife collection.
Shop our extensive high-quality kitchenware range.
Put simply, planned obsolescence is when products are designed to break (i.e. become obsolete), so that you buy them more often.
This can take many forms. It can be in a software update that inexplicably slows your device. It can also be in a shoddy part in your appliance that, once broken, sends the whole unit to landfill. It can even be in the instantly-bobbly material of a cheap fast fashion garment. It's sometimes called premature or built-in obsolescence, but they all essentially mean the same thing.
The idea of planned obsolescence was first conceived in 1928 by marketing pioneer Justus George Frederick. According to this article by the Guardian:
Today this concept has been legitimised and is built heavily into manufacturing and marketing cycles. Planned obsolescence drives profitability, and has been largely accepted by the business world and consumers alike.
Our founder Tara Button wrote the book on living a life less throwaway - sign up to the buy-for-life movement and we'll send you the chapter on planned obsolescence, for free!
One of the most famous examples of planned obsolescence is the light bulb. In 1924, light bulbs were improving in quality; some were lasting up to 2,500 hours. Concerned for their profits, a group of major light bulb manufacturers formed the Phoebus Cartel, which colluded to reduce the average light bulb lifespan to 1025 hours. How did they get away with it? Many of the changes were sold to consumers as efficiencies and improvements in brightness.
A more recent example is Apple's slowing down of older iPhone models using compulsory software updates. In France, where planned obsolescence is illegal, Apple were slapped with a 24 million euro fine for "deceptive commercial practice[s] by omission".
Whereas planned obsolescence involves giving products an artificial end-date or reduced lifespan, psychological obsolescence makes consumers dissatisfied with products that still work perfectly well.
This usually takes the form of releasing a fresh new model, that makes the product we have seem old and inadequate in comparison. This prompts us to purchase the new model, even if the old one hasn't yet reached the end of its useful life. One of the big proponents of psychological obsolescence is fast fashion, which drives faster and more frequent trend cycles, whilst simultaneously driving the price of clothing down.
When it comes to fighting planned obsolescence, our greatest power lies in the everyday purchasing choices we make. We can and should campaign for laws that empower consumers and combat waste, such as the Right to Repair. However, if buyers keep demanding cheap goods whilst accepting their short lifespans, we won't see change any time soon.
We want consumers to think about product longevity when they choose what to buy. Good value doesn't mean finding the most low-cost option, and conversely, a high price doesn't always denote quality! Our aim is to empower consumers to buy less, and buy better.
Products with long lifespans often work out cheaper, stay out of landfill and provide a better experience. When we buy for life, we are investing in an item that could even outlive us!
Whilst some brands have a solid reputation for making high-quality items, often it's not obvious whether a product will stand the test of time.
It always pays to do a little research into what you're buying. What materials is it made from? Which parts could break? Is this a timeless design you'll love forever?
A great indicator of longevity can be a fixed-period or lifetime warranty. This indicates that the manufacturer has confidence in their product and stands by their quality promise. For some items, like shoes and clothing, guarantees are very rare - but some companies will repair or refurbish your item for a fair fee, sometimes even for free!
Another interesting consideration is to look for products with modular parts. Modular designs acknowledge that there are some parts of the product that are likely to wear out, which you can easily change up instead of buying a whole new unit.
You can read more about our own in-depth research process here.
BuyMeOnce research and sell the longest lasting products in the world. We're tackling planned obsolescence by championing manufacturers who buck the trend, and go the extra mile in quality.
By carrying out thorough, independent research into product longevity, we want to facilitate smart shopping choices for the long term. We’re demanding well-made products, more watertight guarantees and responsible manufacturing. Our aim is to be the trusted destination for finding fantastically reliable items.
We know people are sick of badly-made stuff. That’s why we exist, and we want you to know you can expect better.
Love things that last.
Join the our movement.
Shop our Bestsellers range here.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme estimate that around 650,000 tonnes of textiles was collected for re-use and recycling in 2014. But where do our donations go and how can we recycle responsibly?
Buying durable products that last a lifetime keeps non-biodegradable materials out of landfill for as long as possible. But when we replace our unwanted clothes and shoes with better quality ones, or when the things we own just don’t work anymore, we need to be very mindful of how we go about disposing of them. Simply throwing away unwanted textiles with the usual rubbish won’t cut it. According to Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), extending the life of textiles by 9 months of active use would reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.
But ethically disposing of textiles can be a complex beast with charities, private waste companies and in-store retail collections competing for our donations. This is a big industry with millions to be made and not all for charity. WRAP estimate that over half of UK textile donations collected for recycling or reuse is exported for resale across regions including Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe; 32% is resold or reused in UK charity shops; and 9% is recycled. Third-world countries are the largest end-market for our cheap and unwanted clothes and shoes. Whilst it is great that these items have an extended life that keeps them out of landfill, the harmful economic effect on these economies, as result of the influx of such cheap imports, has not yet been properly measured by any textiles organisation.
Another grey area is door-to-door charity bag collection services operating within the UK. According to the Fundraising Standards Board, charities lose an estimated £15 million each year through the theft of charity bags or bogus collections and even when collections are legitimate, they can be misleading. The Advertising Standards Authority recently banned a company’s clothes collection bags for placing the Cancer Research name prominently and failing to make clear that it is a commercial business not donating directly to a charity. However, in 2014, The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWRB) estimated that less than 2% of textiles from door-to-door collection and 11% of goods in textiles banks are stolen in London, which is much lower than previously thought. LWRB attribute this to a dramatic decline in the value of used textiles – as poor quality clothing pours into recycling streams, a result of fast fashion and cheaper clothing prices, even the thieves are turned off and have moved on.
The ASA ruled that these commercial waste bags were likely to give consumers a misleading impression that the recipients of donations were a charity. Photograph: ASA
Until consumers are presented with a more transparent selection of options about the true impact of their choices, we should absolutely continue to recycle. So what are our options?
If you want to get rid of clothes or shoes that are in perfect condition, but not right for you, consider selling them or giving them away for free on sites such as Gumtree, Ebay or ASOS Marketplace. If everyone in the UK bought one reclaimed woollen garment each year, it would save an average of 1,686 million litres of water and 480 tonnes of chemical dyestuffs. So as well as selling your unwanted knits online, if you’re in the market for a new cardigan try to buy second hand.
Alternatively, donate clothes and shoes that are in a good condition directly to a charity shop. To ensure your donations end up in the right hands, deliver your items during shop opening hours or call the charity to arrange a free collection from your home. Many will pick up in the evenings so even a busy work schedule shouldn’t prevent you from disposing ethically. Traid, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Red Cross and Age UK all pick-up for free at prearranged times.
When you’re having a clear out, don’t forget that even your undies can be recycled. Clean knickers (with labels on) and new or gently worn bras are especially valuable to women around the world who are vulnerable without the basic protections that underwear provides. Smalls for All founder Maria Macnamara recognised that in Zimbabwe underwear is a status symbol with women who can afford it seen as having someone who cares for them – a husband, brother or father. Simply post clean pants and bras to Smalls for All who will distribute your unwanted knick knacks to girls and women in Africa. Some charities such as Traid and Oxfam also accept worn bras and you can donate bras in any condition, even the most tatty, in-store at Bravissimo.
If you would rather use a recycling bank, www.recyclenow.com has a fully comprehensive and easy-to-use local area recycling locator. When using this search engine it’s not clear whether the banks are provided by local council, charities or private waste companies. If this is a concern for you check the registered information on the side the bank before dropping in your items – it should be clear who is operating it. If you discover any advertising that misleads consumers into thinking the bank is operated by a charity rather than a commercial waste company, contact the ASA and file a complaint. Stamping out fraudulent collections will make textiles recycling more transparent.
Whatever you do, don’t simply throw your unwanted shoes and textiles with the normal rubbish – they should always be resold, donated or recycled. And when you do buy new things, whether clothes and shoes or electronics and furniture, buy well made items that you love and that will last. The less we buy and the more durable our things, the less will end up in landfill.]]>
If you don’t want to shell out for a bulky, loud and complex espresso machine that could break after two or three years, your at-home espresso options are both limited and kind of sub-par. That is, until we bring the ROK EspressoGC into the equation.
Coffee wizards ROK have been around since 2002, and with their first fully manual espresso maker they revolutionised what’s possible without the use of electricity. Now on their second, tougher model, this innovative machine has developed something of a cult following. Why? Because it’s unique, it’s fun to use, and above all - it makes outstanding cups of espresso.
We love the EspressoGC because it’s highly robust - it’s made from an ultra-strong metal alloy which is guaranteed for 10 years - and manual products tend to be much more long-lasting than their electrical counterparts. But it has other benefits too: it’s compact for one, with a small countertop footprint, and comes with a useful set of accessories including a storage tin, tamp and measuring spoon.
It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to other espresso machines making shots of comparable quality. It generates minimal waste - goodbye plastic pods! And because it doesn’t require electricity to work (compared to 1.91 kilowatts of energy per day for other coffee makers), this is a low-tech coffee maker that's kinder to the environment.
We also can’t overlook outstanding product design credentials - ROK won the ‘Best Product’ award at the London Coffee Festival in 2014.
If you’re unfamiliar with how the EspressoGC works, this video gives you a quick rundown:
It’s a simple process, but the fact that you’re fully in control of your espresso means that you can experiment with different variables, such as the grind size and infusion time, to perfect your espresso to your own taste. But, you shouldn’t have to figure it ALL out yourself, so here are our top tips for getting great results with this fantastic piece of kit:
On that note, there’s something special about hand pulling shots with the ROK espresso maker that’s kind of intangible. It’s smooth and quiet, unlike the loud buzz of an electrical coffee maker.
It’s a hands-on, physical process that somehow lends itself to something we already love about coffee: ritual. Having a moment with yourself. And in the absence of our usual routines and haunts, there’s comfort to be found there.
Check out the ROK manual espresso maker here.
Or you can browse our entire fantastic Coffee and Tea section.
For luxury bag makers Maxwell Scott, the worldwide lockdown has posed a particular challenge. Not least because all their products are handcrafted in Tuscany, Italy, from the highest-quality Italian leather.
We got in touch with them to find out how their supply chain has been affected and how they’re keeping their spirits lifted.
“As all of our Italian luxury leather products are handmade in Italy, our production has ceased in line with guidelines from the Italian government,” sales manager Charlotte tells us. “Whilst we cannot manufacture until restrictions are lifted, we do hold a good level of stock ready in Italy and we have been lucky enough to receive weekly deliveries”
Maxwell Scott have a longstanding relationship with the people who make their products, so recent events have been really worrying beyond the business implications.
“All of our Italian colleagues and craftsmen remain in good health which is reassuring,” says Charlotte. “We have worked with the leather tanneries and craftsmen in Italy for so many years they are like an extended family, and we will continue to support them through these difficult times and for many years to come.”
In the UK, all Maxwell Scott staff have been working steadily from home, whilst the fulfilment of orders from their head office is being carried out safely with social distancing in place. The team have been full of admiration for the delivery services who are keeping the flow of goods going and providing daily smiles.
Maxwell Scott’s biggest challenge? “Being able to commence the production of products again to meet demand," Charlotte tell us. "Whilst we hold a good stock of products ready in Italy, our handmade Italian leather products, due to their quality and attention to detail, take time to make.”
And what’s keeping morale high? “We have received many messages of support from customers around the world, and also messages from many people who have not heard of our brand before. These well wishes from around the globe have really had a positive impact at such uncertain times.”
“One customer messaged us to let us know he was over the moon with the delivery of his new briefcase - even if his only commute right now is from the bedroom to the living room. He cannot wait to take it for a spin on his first day back at work!”
“Another lady from the US was very thankful we arranged a special birthday gift for her son. As they are self-isolating apart she really didn’t want to miss his milestone birthday, so we arranged a personalised gift to be wrapped along with his mother's message to reach him in time for his big day.”
“All in all, everyone around the globe has been so supportive and appreciative of the work we do and the lengths we go to during these uncertain times. Even though we are working in exceptional circumstances we still like to go that extra mile where we can.”
Maxwell Scott are makers of premium quality leather bags handmade in Tuscany, a region that has been considered the beating heart of beautiful leather for over 200 years. Each bag comes with an outstanding 25-year warranty, but with care, we expect them to last you a lifetime. Blending a luxurious, traditional quality with considered British design, Maxwell Scott bags are a lifetime investment in style, quality and utility.
You can support Maxwell Scott and other independent brands by visiting our Shop Independent collection.
It’s not been an easy month for Bronwyn Lowenthal, founder and creative director of sustainable fashion brand Lowie. With her two small London boutiques having to shut shop, a halted supply chain and all operations moving to at-home working, this small business has had to adapt, and adapt fast.
We got in touch to find out how she and her team have been rising to the challenge.
“Our two retail stores and I had to transport my office set-up to my house. We stopped all of our Indian and Chinese production and changed our business model to keeping our community, rather than maximising sales. The first week or two I was shellshocked and very anxious, but I’m getting used to it now.”
Despite being far apart, Bronwyn and the Lowie team have meetings over Skype every morning, so they feel like they’re still working together. Her biggest challenge? “I find that keeping motivated during this time, especially since we don’t know how long this ‘time’ will be, is very difficult.”
With ‘normal life’ being turned upside-down, and people’s priorities changing drastically, Bronwyn also can’t help but reflect upon her own and that of the business. “Many of the things we considered important before just don’t even register. Is running a sustainable fashion business even important?"
"I hope that this time of letting the earth breathe can continue after the virus has gone away.”
Nevertheless, Bronwyn is still finding joy in the wider community - both locally and in the Lowie sphere. When asked if there have been any unexpected benefits, she responded, “my garden looks great! And I feel like I’m getting to know my neighbours very well. I’ve painted a big rainbow sign and attached it to my back fence facing Brockwell park which I hope is making people happy!”
To keep the community spirit alive, Lowie are also running free virtual crafting workshops every week, which have received rage reviews - from embroidery, to weaving, to darning. You can keep up with their schedule here.
Lowie womenswear represents a love for traditional handicraft techniques, heritage elements, and an unwavering appreciation for the environment. Strong, chic and timeless, all Lowie garments incredibly come with a lifetime of free repairs! You can support Lowie by visiting our Shop Independent collection.]]>
The Buy Me Once Research Team has to be certain that we select only the best long-lasting items of true quality. As a result, we're highly discerning. Our thorough, in-depth research takes us all the way through a product’s design and manufacture, so you can rest assured you’re buying something that will stand the test of time, from someone you can trust.
We are a small team of researchers, whose combined knowledge spans a wide range of product expertise. Our research is always independent - no company can pay to be on Buy Me Once. We take on products from both established heritage names and new brands championing product longevity.
There are six main considerations we take into account during our research process:
If a product is claiming to last a very long time, it has to be made of quality stuff. We look for materials that are a cut above the rest: strong, functional and resistant to wear and tear. For instance, our bestselling Solidteknics pans are made from wrought iron, which offers the same fantastic cooking experience as cast iron whilst being stronger and lighter.
Expert craftsmanship is essential to turning these quality materials into a great product. Our partners carefully consider all aspects of their product’s construction, excelling in durability when a lesser product would break or fail. Our Blunt umbrellas, for example, have a high-tension reinforced canopy for incredible strength in all weather.
We look for manufacturers who take product longevity seriously. Watertight guarantees and affordable repair services ensure your product can be fixed, replaced or refunded years down the line. Our Darn Tough socks, for instance, are covered by a no-quibble lifetime guarantee. If they wear out, simply post them back for another pair free of charge.
A product can be incredibly well-made, but if you fall out of love with it, it will get thrown away anyway. This is why we look for products that have timeless, classic designs, which won’t become dated and could even improve with age. Blackhorse Lane Ateliers’ raw denim jeans are a great example - this classic garment fades and shapes to your body over time, creating jeans unique to you.
We love products which are made with people and the environment in mind. We require basic ethical manufacturing standards from all our partners, and celebrate those going the extra mile. For example, Elvis and Kresse accessories are made entirely in one factory from ultra-tough recycled British firehose, and 50% of all their profits are donated to charity.
We love finding designs that extend a product’s lifespan in innovative ways. Whilst sometimes the best solution is to have something really, really solid, lots of our partners have found incredibly clever ways to increase longevity. Our modular headphones by AIAIAI can be repaired or upgraded with ease, because they're made up of individual parts. If the cable breaks, you can get a new one instead of throwing away the whole unit.
If you think you know of something that fits the bill, please get in touch! We’re always looking for new long-lasting products, from companies both big and small.
You may notice unavailability for some brands on our site. We will continue to update availabilities as we receive them from our brands.
A lot of brands are running at capacity or with less staff, so we ask that you wait an extra day or two to receive your order.
Small businesses like BuyMeOnce and many of the unique brands we retail are particularly vulnerable to feeling the full force of these events.
Through this we remain open for business as usual.
We’d like to thank you for your continued support as we navigate through the pandemic.
We sincerely wish you all the best during this difficult time.
Stay safe and stay home.
We believe there is one way to banish unnecessary, wasteful consumption - and also to give someone a perfect gift they will love, use and treasure forever! The answer? Gift cards. With the launch of our new Gift for Life Card, we want to champion the idea that the humble gift voucher is the pinnacle of conscious gifting. Here’s why:
Buying things that aren’t wanted is not just awkward - it’s a waste of money, time and resources. By giving the gift of choice, a gift card eliminates the chance of a disappointing present, and empowers your loved one to choose something they actually need.
It’s not just unwanted gifts that might find their way to landfill. If you’re on a budget, choosing cheaply-made gifts does no one any favours. A Gift for Life card can be put towards the purchase of sustainably-made item that could last a lifetime. And no wasteful wrapping paper required!
With the Covid-19 outbreak situation rapidly changing, there's every chance that you won't be deliver a gift in person. The Gift for Life card arrives in your inbox instantly: a timely gift that still expresses that you care about your recipient. No contact required!
Would you rather have one amazing present, or ten rubbish ones? It may be that what your loved one really wants is a dream item, that neither of you can afford alone. With a gift card, you can contribute to the purchase of the ultimate present, whilst working within a budget that works for you.
To truly give the gift of choice, why wouldn’t you just give cash? As we all know, life gets in the way, and it can be difficult to put money aside into making a dedicated 'treat' purchase for ourselves, even when instructed to. A gift card is a conscious present that means your giftee will have to treat themselves to something they love, instead of the weekly shop.
The gift-giving expectations we place upon ourselves are so strong, we can easily forget our money is hard-earned, and shouldn’t be thrown away thoughtlessly! Gift cards ensure that gift purchases are productive, thought-through and wanted. This is a way to respect your money, and the time you spent earning it.
Clothing and accessories consistently top the list of gifts that miss the mark. This is because taste and style are so personal, even if you think you know what someone likes, it’s fairly likely you don’t. Even worse, now they have to wear it every time they see you! Let them choose something they actually love, avoiding any awkward unwrapping moments.
We’ve all been there - that anxiety-fuelled power walk around the high street buying a ‘that’ll do’ gift you know isn’t right just before the shops close. Purchasing a Gift for Life Card is not only stress-free and instantaneous, it allows the recipient to carefully select their own gift, without any rush.
‘Emotional durability’ means an item’s ability to stand the test of time as a loved object. Maybe you’ll buy your dad that wallet with the lifetime warranty on it - but what if he hates the design? You can’t always guarantee a gift will stay in someone’s life forever, but by letting them choose, it’s far more likely to happen!
So, do you think gift cards get a bad rap? If you’re ready to give the gift of choice, check out the Gift for Life Card by BuyMeOnce.]]>