Planned Obsolescence

The wrapping paper is in the bin, the holiday decorations are by now all packed away, and you have your shiny new – whatever – to play with. But how long is it likely to last?

This is a horrifying concept – planned obsolescence or the deliberate building in to a design or product a limited useful life so that it passes its use-by date long before it actually needs replacement. I’m sure you’re aware of it.

SBS ran a doco about it late last year and you can see it here (52 minutes). The narrator’s voice is a bit freaky but the content is even worse:


Whether you subscribe to ‘conspiracy’ theories or not, this makes sense.  It’s the basis of first world economies to create need in your product – and if you can produce it cheaply, and then factor in this early use-by date, then you create a continual stream of consumers who need to replace their ‘broken’ electronics.

How often do you hear “White goods just don’t last as long as they used to” for example. Or “I bought this iPod and it just stopped working”. Or “My iPad screen just broke and I have to buy a whole new iPad”.

My first fridge when I left home was in fact my mother’s old Whirlpool. When I had to change it to a more environmentally-friendly one that also fit the size of my unit, the second hand dealer actually paid ME for the fridge: “They don’t make ’em like this anymore and I can’t give you anything that would come anywhere near the lifespan of this”. Sure enough the one I got in exchange only lasted a few years before I was forced to buy another one.

Next time you go to purchase something, or upgrade your phone or computer because you just want the latest, perhaps think about:

1.  Do you really need it?

2.  Are you buying it just to have the ‘latest’ and ‘greatest’ – to keep up with the Jones-es?

3.  How long is it likely to last?

And then spare a thought for Mike Anane and the people of Ghana and other third world countries, who live with our waste every day. Some of the images from the 38 minute mark are simply horrifying.

2012 should be a year when we focus less on consumption and more on environmental responsibility. We have a limit on our resources – and the areas we can toss our trash.

It’s time we lose our ‘throw away’ mentality for the sake of everyone.

Will you join me?


“The world is big enough to satisfy everyone’s needs, but will always be too small to satisfy individual greed.” – Ghandi


© Earth Goddess Wisdom


2 Responses to “Planned Obsolescence”

  1. 1

    I totally agree with you on this post. I too had an old fridge given to me by my mother which seems to last forever but unfortunately was too small with a tiny freezer and also not eco friendly.

    I don’t know how many toasters, kettles and irons we have gone through in our household and fully agree that it is planned obsolescence …

    We have done away with so many small businesses that used to repair these items by throwing away broken or redundant consumer products.

    We have to dump these residue products somewhere because it’s too costly to repair and recycle. All we have to do is Google what happens to our plastic drink bottles!!! We don’t dump them in our back yard and very few get recycled.

    My phone is well past it’s use by date by today’s standards and also my PC, before it gets replaced I upgrade it as much as possible before replacing.

  2. 2

    That’s a good point Monika – about the number of repair businesses that have now closed down because people are happier to replace than to repair. Very sad 🙁

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