I think almost everyone knows about planned obsolescence, but you might be surprised about the extent that it’s used. For instance, there’s a lightbulb in the Livermore, California firehouse that’s burned continuously for over 100 years. As explained in the The Lightbulb Conspiracy documentary, a group of industry leaders conspired decades ago to reduce lightbulb life from 2,500 hours down to a more profitable 1,000 hours. Some call this progress??? The end result is massive waste of finite resources and huge waste disposal problems. So keep this in mind when selecting materials for your new home. Choose safe, locally available natural materials and recycled materials as much as possible, and buy quality tools that last.
From The Lightbulb Conspiracy documentary: Consumerism = 1. advertisement, 2. planned obsolescence, 3. credit. These 3 stages of modern business are worth noting regarding the promulgation of today’s world wide consumer system which is presently stripping the natural wealth of the planet for all inhabitants, including man.
From Wiki: “Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of deliberately planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete or nonfunctional after a certain period of time. Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence. For an industry, planned obsolescence stimulates demand by encouraging purchasers to buy sooner if they still want a functioning product.”
6 thoughts on “Planned Obsolescence”
It all is moving towards the lowest common denominator. Labor and material quality. It used to be American products were the best in the world. We owned the market place for just about everything. Then corporations found that cheap labor and cheap materials would make a product that would last just thru the required warranty. No longer is a better mouse trap motivation to get a market share. It is all about disposable products that hopefully consumers will continue to buy.
I was recently looking at purchasing a simple toaster oven. After reading many reviews it is almost impossible to buy a new good one. Most don’t last much longer then the warranty and many are unsafe. The idea that you could purchase something as simple as a toaster and have it last 10 or more years is gone.
There’s definitely a point of diminishing returns to this. At some point (we might be there now) people are going to stop buying this crap. After all, there are alternatives. You could toast the bread on a cast iron skillet, for instance. (Homemade bread, of course.) People lived without all these contraptions up until the last century or so. I know I can (and do) live without most of this junk.
It’s a frustrating issue. And hard to see a way around it from within an economy based on planned obsolescence. Being inundated with it, and being raised as part of it makes it ingrained almost to our very core. Certainly for an economy to continue to function, there must be a flow of money. How do you transition from “buy more stuff” to “buy durable products” without some sort of buffer?
Obviously there would be a cost to maintain products, as even durable things wear out. It’s a brave company that tries to encourage their customers to pay them to repair products rather than simply have them replaced with a new one immediately. Or in the case of a company that does send immediate replacements, to suggest that their products are mostly refurbished items. After all, something that isn’t “new” should be cheaper, right? And if it’s been fixed multiple times, it gives the impression that those parts that have not been replaced yet are just on the edge of failing. “Why not just buy the competitor’s superior ‘new’ product?” they might say.
Honestly, I think it would help all around if people were encouraged to reproduce less. I can’t imagine a world without waste is just around the corner, but it’d be easier to make happen if there were fewer people to make said waste. Of course if you follow the same line of thought, less people means less people to spend money… A viscous cycle.
Agreed, fewer people would take some pressure off the situation. Another key is spending the money we do have wisely. I’m talking about reducing government waste on wars and unnecessary programs. Solutions exist for almost every problem we face, yet much of the money is wasted.
This reminds me of a story. I saw a farmer years ago with an unusual looking shovel. The metal part was about half the usual length. I kept looking at the short shovel and finally asked the farmer if this was a special type of shovel for a particular purpose. He said no, it was just worn down from 30(?) years of use! Geez, most shovels now break in a few months or maybe 1-2 years. No way will they last 30 years unless you search out the highest quality shovels used by landscapers.
I think microwaves have planned obsolescence nowadays. My grandma had one microwave for about 20 years. The one I bought didn’t last a year, the one before that one wasn’t very old when it died. Shouldn’t technology logically be progressing in the direction of being more reliable? I’m rebelling by not getting another one.
Yeah, there’s a definite trend towards shorter lifespans of products. In many cases it’s become a “race to the bottom” so to speak to see who can make the absolute lowest cost products.