Destroyed by Planned Obsolescence | The Jackal

22 Aug 2011

Destroyed by Planned Obsolescence

I watched a program about planned obsolescence on a doco called The Light Bulb Conspiracy last weekend.

It highlighted the terrible consequences of our modern consumerist societies, the tricks used to make us buy more, the waste produced and how that waste is currently causing environmental problems that cannot continue to be ignored.

You might be aware that a lot of products we use today are designed to break. They often cannot be repaired, have inbuilt timers to just stop working and sometimes require an upgrade that will not work on an older model.

By designing products that frequently need to be replaced, the manufacturer makes sure they stay in business and profiteer from what is essentially design failures. Because of this financial dynamic within the economy, government’s have little reason to change the system. Legislating against forced obsolescence will reduce government’s tax take, therefore they have a financial incentive to continue the destructive status quo.

People should be pissed off about planned obsolescence because it means less wealth for them. It means the consumer has to spend a lot of time running around upgrading, fixing and replacing items that could be designed to last a lifetime.

The consequences of this unsustainable cycle of consumerism and waste production, if it continues, will ultimately destroy the planet.

Firstly the products being designed to break often use components and substances that are very toxic. They’re not being properly recycled because governments ensure manufactures are absolved from responsibility.

Secondly many of the resources required in the manufacturing process are non-renewable, meaning that the cost to the environment in terms of carbon footprint is increased.

Thirdly resources are finite meaning that the faster they’re used up and not properly recycled, the harder and more expensive it becomes to manufacture.

The manufacturers underlying motivation is to maximise profits. This is at the expense of the end consumer and the environment. Government’s should realise that the long-term costs far exceed any short-term profits and impose legislation to outlaw the destructive practice known as planned obsolescence.