Posts Tagged ‘planned obsolescence’

Make you Fink on Friday

I have written on planned obsolescence in four posts here in the last couple of years. You can put ‘planned obsolescence’ in the dinky little search box on the title bar to find them.

All designed to breakdown before their time

All designed to break down before their time

Principally, planned obsolescence is designing objects and appliances to wear out and stop working at a predetermined time so that you will be forced to buy a new one. Products that last a lifetime are not good for manufacturers who want to sell more.

But while planned obsolescence refers to technical goods and household appliances, does it go further?

From my personal experience.

Two tears, the smaller one on the white line

Two tears, the smaller one on the white line

I have two recent examples, first a couple of years ago I bought two sheets for my bed. Yesterday, I noticed a frayed tear in one of them, which was joined by another tear this morning.

Okay, the sheet has had it.

Now trotting back more than a few years. My mother bought sheets at the time she got married, those sheets were still being used on her silver wedding anniversary, 25 years later, and possibly longer, I don’t know the story beyond that.

Now I look at what is the difference?

One, my mother’s sheets were probably made in New Zealand and my sheets may have been made in Brazil, or imported from the likes of India or China. Now it is evident that the quality of the two lots of sheets is remarkably different. Is it due to planned obsolescence through the use of inferior materials and/or manufacturing methods, or simply that the third world countries make shittier products?

My second example is about socks.

In 1996 I bought three pair of socks in New Zealand before I returned to Brazil. I was still using those same socks twelve years later, and that would have been longer if my house hadn’t burned down resulting in their loss.

Brazilian socks on the other hand develop their first holes after six months. I have never had a pair of Brazilian socks that has gone beyond this time.

Once again, I ask, is this planned obsolescence through inferior materials and/or manufacture, or simply the third world problem again?

Or are the two problems partly linked?

Is this planned obsolescence creeping into every aspect of our lives?

Less spending power makes you rely on credit

Less spending power makes you rely on credit

This constant buying of and replacing goods through the loss due to planned obsolescence is a major drain on our financial resources which has resulted in the middle classes having less disposable income. We have less spending power.

We must also make the link to consumerism. I am using a cellphone that was made five plus years ago, now that is a long time. I am under no illusion that it will cease to work sometime in the near future. I also have friends who have had their more recent models break down in less time than I have had mine, resulting in them buying a newer model with more features.

This has lead to consumerism, where they have begun to buy newer models simply for the newer features, rather than their original unit breaking down.

As a society, we have got to fight back. We have got to face this consumerism head on and refuse to succumb to it; because this has the spin off of depleting the planet’s resources, faster.

Think about this. Have you had non-technical household products that have not lasted as long as you expected?


Monday Moaning

Electronic waste: we must design gadgets that don’t poison the planet

We discard huge amounts of electronics every year, creating a toxic wasteland – often in the poorest countries

We love our gadgets, but we need to find safe ways of disposing of them. Photograph: Oliver Stratmann/AFP/Getty Images

Record sales of tablets, laptops and smart phones. Ever smaller computers, and thinner televisions, brighter screens and sharper cameras. What could possibly be wrong with the worldwide explosion in sales of electrical and digital equipment seen this Christmas? Consumers love the sleek designs and the new connectivity they offer, businesses can’t make enough for a vast and hungry global market, and governments see technological innovation and turnover as the quick way out of recession. This is a new age of the machine and electronic equipment is indispensable in home and workplace.

But there is a downside to the revolution that governments and companies have so far ignored. In the drive to generate fast turnover and new sales, companies have deliberately made it impossible to repair their goods and have shortened the lifespan of equipment.

Hardware is designed not to keep up with software, a computer’s life is now under two years and mobile phones are upgraded every few months. Many electronic devices now have parts that cannot be removed or replaced. From being cheaper to buy new devices than to repair them, it has now reached the point where it is impossible to repair them at all.

The result is that much electronic equipment is impossible to recycle. As devices are miniaturised, they become increasingly complex. A single laptop may contain hundreds of different substances, dozens of metals, plastics and components which are expensive to dispose of. As we saw last week from Ghana, vast quantities of this dangerous “e-waste” is being dumped on developing countries where it is left to some of the poorest people to try to extract what they can in dangerous conditions.

The scale of e-waste growth is shocking and has left governments and authorities behind. By 2017 it is expected that there will be more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices alone.

From under 10m tonnes of e-waste generated in 2000, it has now reached nearly 50m tonnes, with every sign that this will increase by 33% in the next five years. Britain will discard over 1.3m tonnes of electronics this year, much of which will be buried in landfill, incinerated or exported.

The old corporate model of “take, make and chuck” is not sustainable. Our obsession with gadgetry and technology is now driving industry to open new mines around the world, squandering energy, biodiversity and water at every stage of extraction. Enormous areas of toxic wasteland are created and left for future generations to deal with.

Designing goods so they can be easily recycled is now critical. Companies must be challenged to rethink the way they make and source their materials to ensure there is no waste from start to finish. Gadgets must be reusable and repairable, and built-in obsolescence discouraged. Companies, too, must become responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, especially when they become obsolete.

Governments must better monitor waste shipments from ports. E-waste is easy to conceal, and the black market is attracting organised crime. Natural resources have long been used to fuel violent conflict and human rights abuses, but now we must accept that gadgets can be equally dangerous. The sale of millions of computers and mobile phones, even the electronic toys that we will give this Christmas, is being driven by an increasingly flawed business model which is leading to a depleted and polluted planet.



No need to express an opinion here, because it’s bloody obvious!

Any company that sells any electronic gadget must be legally bound to accept that back on the purchase of a new one; and, be responsible for the responsible disposal of that gadget.

It boils down to this: If companies insist on planned obsolescence, then they are to be made responsible for the end disposal.


Make you Fink on Friday


Did you know that the lifetime of light bulbs once used to last for more than 2500 hours and was reduced on purpose to just 1000 hours? Did you know that nylon stockings once used to be that stable that you could even use them as tow rope for cars and its quality was reduced just to make sure that you will soon need a new one? Did you know that you might have a tiny little chip inside your printer that was just placed there so that your device will break after a predefined number of printed pages thereby assuring that you buy a new one? Did you know that Apple originally did not intend to offer any battery exchange service for their iPods/iPhones/iPads just to enable you to continuously contribute to the growth of this corporation?

This strategy was maybe first thought through already in the 19th century and later on for example motivated by Bernhard London in 1932 in his paper Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence. The intentional design and manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan to assure repeated purchases is denoted as planned/programmed obsolescence and we are all or at least most of us upright and thoroughly participating in this doubtful endeavor. Or did you not recently think about buying a new mobile phone / computer / car / clothes / because your old one unexpectedly died or just because of this very cool new feature that you oh so badly need?



This is criminal!

I hope you took the trouble to watch this video. Yes, I know it’s 52 minutes, but it affects your lifetime. In your lifetime, how many times will you become a victim?

These cartel members need to be PROSECUTED!

Even through the passage of time, this is still the modus operandi of manufacturers and products today.

Are you shocked?

What are you doing about it?


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