Home » News » Planned obsolescence and consumerism : do you want your life to be garbage and money?

Planned obsolescence and consumerism : do you want your life to be garbage and money?

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Today, lot of people denounce the process of planned obsolescence and consumerism.

We buy things that we do not really need or throw away things that can be fixed. Economy is based on economic growth and the desire on the part of the consumer to buy more and more. But who is really responsible of consumerism? I would say both the enterprises that produce goods and the consumer who buys those goods. But, do we really have the choice? I would answer NO!

We must be responsible but economy creates new needs and lust! Some products are really useful but others are not!  Do we really need a kindle, an iphone and so on…

Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which a product becomes quickly out-of-date. The products are planned to be obsolete, old-fashionned to spur consumers to buy new ones all the time. The worst, manufacturers product goods that are made to last 2 years and no more, they deceive the consumers.  And those products cannot be recycled such as flat TV or some batteries (computers, phones, etc.).

In 1920’s, companies started to shorten life of products to boost consumption and increase the rate of remplacement. Nowadays, they do everything to sell you new products.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

In 1901, a light bulb was invented and placed in the city of Livermore, this light bulb is still working! Thus, the consumer can wonder why the light bulbs he buys today do not last as long as this one. Of course, there is a reason, a financial reason. At that time, manufacturers decided to limit the life of light bulbs to sell more. That is why there was a restriction on light bulb life. They decided that a light bulb would only last 1000 hours no more!

During decades, inventors created light bulbs with a lasting of 100 000 hours but those light bulbs never arrived on the market. Nowadays, we are supposed to have energy saving light bulbs but we do not know how to recycle those products when they are out of order. Moreover, they do not last more than 1000 hours.

You may want to know the origin of planned obsolescence. Who is the Father of planned obsolescence? I would say Bernard London! The author of The New Prosperity declared planned obsolescence as compulsory in order to end The Great Depression. He wrote that it was a necessity to assign a lease of life to products so that after that time they would be considered as ‘dead’ and be returned to governemental agency to be destroyed. He wanted to end The Great Depression through planned obsolescence. At that time, if someone kept the product beyond after the use-by-date he could be subject to fine. London thought that thanks to this lease of life, this limit, he could boost the consumption and thus the economy. But this idea was never applied. The idea came back later but without being compulsory, in fact, the idea would seduce the consumer because the buyer would own something newer, a little better!

Today, people are starting to figure out that something is wrong. Products are easily breakable, this is a new generation of consumers. One the one hand, people are wasting everything, before this,  people were trying to fix their devices. On the other hand, others try to repair their devices. But sometimes, products are made so that you cannot fix them and the only solution is to buy a new one!! Really!!!

If you want to fix your devices by yourself, just give a look on this website : http://www.ifixit.com/

They will explain you how to repair your phone, your computer, etc. You can watch their videos and even buy some of the pieces you need.

In our world, everything is made to seduce the consumer. There are more and more impulsive buying because companies use tricks to entail people to buy. They use music, colours of the shop, smells, etc. Do not fall into those traps!

Marketing and commercial strategies like psychological prices or “magical prices” work very well on the consumer. The magical price is a price ending with a 9. For instance, you buy a toy that costs 9,99 $. Psychologically, you believe that you have paid less than 10$ but actually you have paid 10 $, it’s a trick!

Adverstisements are also made to encourage people to buy. People have bad habits, they think that all products are replacable.

Strategies are set to encourage consumers to buy. For instance, you can find two types of baskets in the supermarkets : a basket with wheels and another one without wheels. It is a real trick because those baskets with wheels are not made to relief people of carrying too much products. In fact, they are made to spur people on buying more because when the usual basket is too heavy you stop buying and go to the cashier’s desk.  With those baskets, you do not feel the weight so you keep buying!

Everything is made to push people to spend money.  The position of the product is all made so that people are attracted by the products. The more goods are proposed, the more people will buy. Even the shapes of the furniture are made to impel consumers to buy. When the shapes are round people tend to loiter whereas the straight lines make them speed up. It is the same in stores such as IKEA. Indeed, have you ever noticed the marked path on the ground ? It tells where you have to go. You must visit the whole store.  Your only escape are the shortcuts but you do not know them if it is your fist time in the store.

Our senses are also manipulated.  When you enter some stores, there is a special sense that arouses your senses.  We are like a muppet, soakers are hidden in the stores, they push us to purchase.

Thus, when you buy something think wisely :

Am I wasting my money?

Do I really need this object?

Is this product recyclable?

Does it harm the environment?

Can I replace the elements of the products?

Can I fix it myself rather than replace it and creates pollution?


Buy when you need it, not because it is cool to have a lot of things. Most products are created thanks to natural ressources but those ressoucres are decreasing very quickly!





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