The shame of planned obsolescence

Yesterday I came across a link to this post. Very profound stuff here….

From photography site Sesame Ellis –
Managing my love of technology, new stuff and the reality of built in obsolescence

In her post, Rachel, aka Sesame Ellis, linked to a video documentary which exposes the history of commercial manufacturing, the dependence that was created on the growth economy, and therefore the first “Planned Obsolescence “. Whether it stems from chips which limit the life-span of an electronic device, parts that are impossible to obtain, items cheaper to replace than repair, or the advertising which strives every day to encourage us to update, upgrade and up-spend.

antique light globe
The first victim of Planned Obsolescence was the Incandescent Globe! (antique light globe (Photo credit: ldisme))

The documentary reveals the first starts of this consumerist way of life, with the advent of advertising in the 50’s and 60’s – when we were first taught that spending will make us happy, that having new things gives us joy and freedom and we all will drive around in sporty convertibles with big sunglasses and even bigger grins.

Tala - for Beauty and Efficiency
Vintage Advertising. Tala – for Beauty and Efficiency (Photo credit: Mags)

Even today in Australia we have been told by the government to spend and not save, to increase the cash flow through the economy. However, what no-one seems to be able to explain is where it all ends. You can’t infinitely produce goods out of finite resources, and on a finite sized planet.

The final part of the documentary exposes the shame of our obsession with technology. All the discarded gizmo’s and gadgets have to go somewhere. Apparently some 3rd world countries have drawn the short straw in that department.

I’m not telling you all this to be a downer. I don’t want to shame anyone or make you feel guilty. However, if you, like me, watch this and DO feel guilty, that’s a good thing. Will this stop my families obsession with tech? Possibly not. However, we make all of our items last a really long time. I am typing this post on a MacBook Pro which is about 6 years old. The batteries are dodgy, and it’s really slow and overheats every so often, but it still works 90% of the time, and we have only just replaced it in the last few months (hence why it became mine). We do not rush into buying the latest and greatest – again my DH is still using his original iPhone, 5 years on. A guy in a phone shop laughed and called it an antique. But you know what? It makes calls, sends messages and does all that he needs it to do. So until it actually completely dies, then it will keep on keeping on.

All Ears
Now that’s what I call an antique phone! All Ears (Photo credit: dospaz)

You see, there isn’t that much you can do about how manufacturers make their decisions. You can vote with your feet, with your dollars, by choosing to buy ethically made, if you buy at all. However, that IS a choice you can make. Choose wisely what and when you buy – and choose with an endpoint in mind. What will happen to all this discarded detritus of our modern world? Seek out recycling for all that you can. Try to make as much difference as you can, as small as it may be.

Turn off the ads, the seductive little voices that tell you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, until your life is enhanced with this purchase. Train yourself to see through their messages, like a code-breaker. Refuse to accept the concept that newer is always better, and look into maintaining and repairing things that have served you faithfully.

Hopefully, it will make a difference. I know at least I’ll sleep better at night for doing my small part, as a guardian of this jewel in space.Happy Crafting - Cassie.

3 Responses

  1. Great post. I am with you all the way. I also believe that when the advertising madness began in the 50s and 60s the generation gap appeared as part of it also. You know, old fashioned, old people are out moded. Forget what granny is doing, its old. Be modern and buy this product.

  2. HI, I recently replaced my old mobile phone. It was a prize I got from an Uncle Toby’s draw during the Sydney Olympics. So that puts it at 12 years old!! It still worked fine for my usage – calls and text messages – but the battery life was only about 1 day, which is why I replaced it. It was almost a cord phone – lol.

    • Good for you Joy!! We really don’t need to always have the latest and greatest 🙂

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