Exploring Planned Obsolescence

Has anything on your car ever broke? It’s pretty frustrating isn’t. You buy a $25k-$50k item and you would like to think that the car will last longer than its warranty. Do you know what is even more frustrating? Discovering that the car was built to break. This concept is called planned obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence is a concept that came into prominence in the 1920s. The practice became even more prominent during the manufacturing boom after World War II. Manufacturers found a way to ensure future production orders by making products that break after a predetermined amount of time. They rode a fine line between pissing you off when the item breaks, and being there with the next best thing. Why do you think a new iPhone comes out every 6 months with just a couple of new features? It’s because your other iPhone is slowly breaking, and you will need to eventually replace it.

We have grown to accept that our stuff breaks. This feeling has actually created our desire to always have the next great thing. We have become upgraders. Your telling me that we can take pictures of other galaxies from space, but we can’t manufacture a tire that can drive more than 60,000 miles. I call BS. Your telling me that we can’t manufacture a travel coffee mug that can simply not leak after 10 uses? BS. The crazy thing is that while the original problem can be blamed on manufacturers, the consumer is now the reason that we are in this nasty situation.

What is the solution? Don’t become an upgrader, and check out a short movie on this topic. The Story of Stuff.

Don’t forget to listen to the radio show this Sunday morning at 11am on 1430 WXNT as we discuss this topic.

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