Thursday, August 2, 2007

Planned Obsolescence

Have you ever marvelled at how Grandma's ancient sewing machine is still running smoothly or seen a power tool from long ago in someone's garage that is still going like the Energizer Bunny?

If you have, you have probably also wondered why many of the things you buy don't seem to last nearly as long. This may be due to the fact that many manufacturers have realized that making products that last 'forever' is not as profitable as making things that break down after a specified period of time. This concept is commonly known as 'planned obsolescence'.

This business practice is filling our landfills with an insane amout of junk that doesn't need to be there. While it is great that we are asking if our purchases are derived from safe and renewable sources, it may be more important to be asking about how long these purchases will last. Landfill, whether it is 'green' or not, is still landfill.

One seemingly insane example of this at a time where we have fully realized out impact on the environment would be HP printers that are programmed to stop working after a certain number of pages have been printed out. You can read more about this on the Consumerist website thanks to a whistle blower. This is quite frightening -
"...the imaging drum/image transfer assembly will stop the printer from working if you go over the page count."

This factor should be considered when rating consumer products for their 'greenness' and by not purchasing things made with this concept in mind we can change the way the corporate world does business for the better.

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