Planned Obsolescence: Not Just Hard on Your Wallet
There is a reason it's often cheaper to replace a broken electronic gadget than to fix it - the tech industry planned it that way. The unfortunate consumer cycle of want, buy, upgrade, replace, discard is a very calculated one. While it is true planned obsolescence keeps consumers spending, the major downside is the hefty environmental burden that comes with hyperconsumerism in an advanced capitalist society.
Planned obsolescence is not just rampant in the consumer electronics industry, it can be found in just about any sector. "Cheap" products might seem like a deal but when they end up in a landfill a short time later, who's really getting a bargain?
If companies built products with half-decent lifespans, profits would inevitably drop since people would not need to buy them as often. While this might seem woeful to manufacturers and retailers, the end results might look a lot more attractive than if we keep on the same path.
Cradle to Cradle Design Certification is a good example of how we can start monitoring products that take product life cycle (PLC) into account.
Cradle to Cradle Certification provides a company with a means to tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design and helps customers purchase and specify products that are pursuing a broader definition of quality.
This means using environmentally safe and healthy materials; design for material reutilization, such as recycling or composting; the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; efficient use of water, and maximum water quality associated with production; and instituting strategies for social responsibility.
In a world of finite resources, a long-term strategy is not just a wise idea, it is necessary. It is up to everyone to demand more responsibility from manufacturers, advertisers and retailers - if you're going to sell us stuff, let's start taking the big picture into account!