Planned obsolescence is one of the biggest problems involved in our modern consumerism culture, but at the same time it’s what holds the our economies together.
the economic ideology of planned obsolescence is one that has been active since the start of mass production in a push to encourage a faster turnover of goods and a higher consumption rate, thus increasing profits of the manufacturer. Have you ever wondered why products you own break or become outmoded? It’s because they have been designed to fail.
Designing to fail is no new concept it has been a tactic of companies since the industrial movement and the introduction of mass production. One of the earliest examples of planned product obsolescence is the light bulb, a product we are constantly changing. There has been a worldwide conspiracy that lightbulbs were restricted to only 1000 hours for decades and decades. This very well planned business plan was one of the company Phoebus, Who had strict manufacturing regulations that controlled the majority of light build manufacturers in the world. These strict regulations were informed by the company through heavy fines to any manufacturer that produced a product of higher quality than set. This meant that eventually bulbs went from lasting an average of 2500 hours to just 1000, increasing the turnover of product but also more than doubling the amount of waste produced. Although this was great fora struggling economy at the time it is a very big sustainability problem which we are only now seeing to become priority.
Planned obsolescence has been a utopian ideology that many people of the last century have seen as great solution to feed our economy, and from that perspective it is! But there are underlying factors and ethics that flaw this utopian concept. The worlds resources are being stripped at a rate that it cannot keep up with and the amount of waste that is being produced is beyond disgusting. It’s a really hard situation we have gotten ourselves into. We are at a point where we rely on this constant flow of consumer goods, that is only possible through planned obsolescence. If there was no planned obsolescence there would be millions of people unemployed and the economy would plummet, so maybe a slow and gradual turn to sustainability is the answer but then again its almost going to be impossible. If we can start with designers that are thinking in a way that is sustainable and quality driven then I think maybe, just maybe we have a chance.