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Don’t Be a Victim of Planned Obsolescence

by Jennifer Stewart | Jun 3, 2011 | Sustainability

Businesses built on poorly-made, trendy products are meant to do one thing and one thing only - break so that you buy more. If you can tame your desire to consume, you can fight back. With a little thought and planning, the stuff you acquire can have meaning and purpose instead of causing headache and frustration. It will also massively help your wallet over time. Here are some tips to fight back against planned obsolescence.

Wikipedia:: in industrial design is a policy of deliberately planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete or nonfunctional after a certain period.[1] Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence.[1]

The term may be new to you, but chances are you can think of several instances of Planned Obsolescence. How ‘bout fashion with its ever-changing heel heights, hem lengths, and suit coat button numbers. Or cell phones that last about six months before they come out with a newer, better must-have model. Or the baby industry with its never-ending supply of gadgets and gizmos, sure to entertain your kid, if only they wouldn’t break when your child crawls over them.

  1. Invest in Quality - You can pay $400 for a couch that will have flat cushions and busted legs within a year but looks great in a showroom, or you can cough up $1200 for a couch that will last so long, you’ll be handing it down to your grandkids. Spending money on quality in the first place keeps you from spending in the future.
  2. Be Classic, Not Current - Ever seen a picture of Audrey Hepburn or Paul Newman and thought they looked great? That’s because a classic wardrobe always looks good. Keeping up with trends can be exciting, but it’ll leave you broke. Spend your money on solid, natural fabrics that will last.
  3. Cut Down on Technology - Figure out what you need, get a product or gadget that matches those needs, and call it a day. Ignore the upgrade that came out the day after you bought it. This one fit your needs just fine, thank you.
  4. Buy Multi-Purpose - From high chairs that convert as your child grows, to refillable tins that you can use in the bulk section of your grocery store, buying items that have multiple purposes means that you can use them longer and create less waste.

Give me any other suggestions you have for reducing your consumption of short-life products and check out this video on how planned obsolescence hurts us,

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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