CROSSROADS Language Studio’s Newsletter April, 2022 planned obsolescence

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Do you sometimes wonder why it is that your parents’ tools and equipment still works despite their age and years of use, while your shiny new household gadgets break down as soon as the warranty no longer applies?
It’s not just your bad luck or the cost-performance factor at play. What many of us experience, in practical terms, is an industry practice called “planned obsolescence.” The aim is to intentionally design a product to wear out prematurely and cause the device to cease functioning properly, warranting a repair or, all too often, a replacement of the entire product. Back in the days when our daily technological commodities were designed to last as long as possible, people fully expected them to do their intended task without fail. The choices were limited and the cost of products was directly transferred to longevity and robustness of the design.
Nowadays, however, we are neck-deep in the world of fast fashion and disposable electronic devices, which are replaced with the latest model. Planned obsolescence drives consumption, and that
is its main reason
for existence.

Fortunately, people are slowly becoming appreciative of quality over quantity, demanding more durable and sustainable products.

Government policymakers are now focusing on this subject, introducing new regulations for manufacturing
industries, making it difficult or impossible to produce goods that cannot be repaired or their components replaced. People will also be informed about the expected product lifespan, so they can make more educated purchasing decisions.
In Scandinavia, many start-up companies are spearheading ideas for repairing existing devices and creating new ones that can be easily fixed by an average consumer. Additionally, more and more people are keen to share many possessions, such as cars, washing machines, power tools, etc.

This shift of thinking of ownership will have a great impact on how we behave as consumers and hopefully this will lead to better models of recycling and waste management – which are currently in dire need of restructuring – extending all the way to a new economic system that doesn’t heavily rely on consumption. Getting rid of planned obsolescence is the first big step to creating better economy and a better world.

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