Friday, June 12, 2015

Can't Put A Price On People

Earlier this week I started to research the topic of disposable products and the costs that go with the products themselves. I found another blog that gave great insight to convenience of the extra cost that goes into products in order for them to be more friendly to the environment as well as where the costs go when paying more to reduce the amount of products used. In short, people will pay a little bit more money for a specific product knowing that it betters the environment. Whether that means the product is made from recycled materials, is reusable or has a longer lifespan. What the blog didn’t cover was what is the affect that the longer life has on the people who create the products and the manufacturing company who provides the products. People like to know they are doing better for the environment but in turn do not get to see that it may be putting people out of jobs or lose money for the manufacturer because they are no longer able to provide work for those people. What struck me as very interesting was the lack of interest people have in other people. A lot of folks who make up our community want to give back to the community but do not see how they are indirectly affecting people’s lives. This can be change through our project and how we are able to show our readers that we need to care more about the products and goods we consume. Not only so we need to care about the products and goods but we need to care about what goes into the business and production side of what we use. 


In conclusion to what I read on the other blog as I was searching the topic the writer finished their post with a strong point that I would like to share. There are a lot of things that we can not put a price on. People’s future, job security and sustainable work environments are often overlooked when we should be focusing on caring for one another.

Environment Loses Too

I read an article about how we are losing to major corporations in the technology industry because they hold a power on how long their products last and the updating systems they provide that will in turn make a specific product irrelevant. We as consumers lose site on what kind of control a company has on use when we only focus on how their product helps us. When we start to understand how much control these companies have on us is when we start to realize we are using products that they are outdating due to their “upgrades” and “advances” in design. 

The perfect example is the Apple iPod. Since the beginning of this product we have made advances in the software, color, picture, porting, etc. When a new model comes out Apple has made it a point to outdate their older products in order to create sales on the new product. If Apple wanted to make their products everlasting they would never sell more than one of those products to each person who bought one. Now think about how many iPod/iPhones you have owned in your life time. Wild isn’t it. 

The production of materials used is another point covered in the article I read. Companies can’t build the strongest and most unbreakable products. Going back to out dating software, you will never buy another one of those products if the first one you buy is everlasting. Computer companies build laptops knowing the material and design they are using has a lifespan of 3-4 years. 


Towards the end of the article it covers an interest point that consumers are not the only losers in this situation. The environment takes a loss in this situation as well. With many products becoming outdated and breaking due to lifespan they get toss and discarded but what actually happens to those? They sit in landfills, do not get recycled or become a waste of materials because they are not relevant anymore. This was where I found environment meets people and glad that they covered that topic.

Airplanes

I have a great interest in airplanes and this topic came to me when a close friend of mine took me flying in a plane his grandfather owned back in the 80s. I was at first very scared to get into a plane that was functioning in the 80s and trust the pilot with such an old hunk of metal. When I got inside the plane I realized that everything had been upgraded and was new I felt a lot more comfortable in his plane. 

Airplanes may seem way off topic when it comes to Planned Obsolescences but I beg to differ. From what I have learned about airplanes and the use of them over time is that they are some of the longest lasting products created. They have to be built to stand extremely tough conditions, have to be updated navigationally and they cost entirely too much to have such a short lifespan. 

The amount of materials that go into building a plane is mind blowing from the metal exterior shell, wiring, interior, even down to the motor assembly. These parts can be compared to motor vehicles and they compared in lifespans. The lifespan of an airplane is roughly 20-25 years. This may seem crazy and I have even wondered if it is safe to be in an aircraft that is that old. What is comes down to is how the aircraft is updated. Just like software on a tech product, airplanes need to be updated. Navigation systems are regulated by a department similar to the DMV when they check a car’s emissions. Navigation systems need to be updated and motor mechanics need to be serviced every so often and inspected. This process is way more intensive than it is with vehicles. This leads me to believe this is why airplanes last longer than motor vehicles. 

Also the financial investment in a plane is greater than vehicles so one would only assume that they would be more interested in keeping a plane around longer than a vehicle owner or manufacturer would be. 

Mac Rumors

I was introduced to a website by a friend that talks about the improvements of new products that are coming out and how they will affect previous models. MacRumors.com is an interesting concept on how people who review new products can inform others on upgrades, downgrades and changes. This relates to our course in the sense of showing how old products may become obsolete because of new products coming out. A site like this can have an affect on apples stock value and the moral of the apple users/consumers with positive reviews to increase the sales of new products coming out. 

This website covers everything from computers to laptops to phones and even accessories. Focusing more on the upgrades and changes it doesn’t give a direct information on when a product will be completely replaced making it irrelevant but it does give information on changes from old products to the new ones being released. This is where the reader can assume that their current product lifespan is coming to an end. Essentially it is a third review site that helps people know what is coming and whats going out. 

I found this to be a very neat way for people to be somewhat ahead of the curve when it comes to preparing for a product to become obsolete and or plan for a change instead of dealing with the shock of change and taking a harder loss.


Something I also thought of when going through this website is how many other industries other than technology? Is there anyway people can do this with materials in the construction industry? If there is a change in process of making a type of wood and you can only use a different type of nails one may want to change what type before hand. Or a specific tool to get the nails in the newly processed wood? Just food for thought as I relate it to the industry that I work in.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sustainable Living---Food Sources

by Zoë Pearson 

I currently live in Seattle, Washington and have been recently looking for new ways to live a sustainable life style. So, I started thinking about food. As a means to chnage my diet, I created a locally grown sustaible menu which reduces my carbon footprint as well as supports local businesses.



Healthy & Sustainable Menu
Background
In 2008, the Seattle City Council passed the Local Food Action Plan which requires that state government officials follow new standards as a means to promote and improve regional food systems. Since then, the act is still in production, yet numerous policies and goals have been set in place. These include: coordinating food systems, working across departments with the Food Interdepartmental Team (IDT), updating land use codes to support urban agriculture, hiring food policy advisors, as well as making more city-owned land available for sustainable food production.

In terms of the Local Food Action Plan, there are currently four main goals outlined:
  1. All Seattle resident should have access to affordable, local, healthy and sustainable and culturally appropriate food.
  2. It should be easy to grow food for both personal use of business purposes.
  3. Businesses that grow local healthy, sustainable and green/organic food should thrive in Seattle and become the main food source.
  4. Food related waste needs to be prevented, reused and recycled in every way possible.

In order to create a sustainable and locally grown menu, one must be aware of local farms to purchase fruits, vegetables and meat products. I thought it would be interesting to shop directly by farm. Though this is not a popular option among consumers, it is continually growing as people are less trusting and more skeptical about labels/products found in local grocery stores. This has therefore created a higher demand for sustainable, morally raised and organic foods sources. Thus, I built my meals off of the local farms I could find.

Purchasing Meats/Dairy:
Acres in Zion-Farm in Enumclaw, Washington that raises natural grass fed beef, primarily Angus and Herefords. They graze on large pastures by Newaukum Creek and are fed locally certified organic hay in the winter. The animals are processed locally and are cut/wrapped the each individuals specifications.
Acres in Zion, Eric Robb, Enumclaw, WA. (253) 736-4848. 
E-mail: 
ericrobb@zionbeef.com. Website: http://www.zionbeef.com
Organic eggs, dairy and chicken can be found at Akyla Farms.
Akyla Farms, Carol & Kevin Osterman, Sedro Woolley WA 98284. (360) 941-1533.
E-mail: barnyard@akylafarms.com. Website: 
Purchasing Vegetables:
Mosby Farms-My aunt runs this company with her husband. They grow organic fruits and vegetables, delicious jams, wines and pies.
(253) 939-9431 Website: http://www.mosbyfarm.com
Purchasing Fish:
Wild Salmon Seafood Market-
2401 Queen Anne Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109 (206) 217-3474 website: http://wildsalmonseafood.com/.

Locally Grown Menu
First Course: Homemade seafood chowder with mixed greens
·         Cream/milk to make soup base found at Akyla Farms and mixed greens from Mosby Farms. This is a healthy source of protein and vegetables. This is sustainable because it is locally grown.
Second Course: Roasted wild salmon and sliced potatoes with garlic
·         Salmon is found at Wild Salmon Seafood Market in Seattle where the fish are caught locally. Potatoes and garlic are from Mosby Farms. Though salmon are considered endangered species, it is ok to indulge every once and a while. Thus, fish is only somewhat sustainable for our local ecosystem. 
Third Course: Angus beef stuffed inside a red pepper paired with black beans
·         Beef is from Acres in Zion Farms and the veggies are from Mosby Farms. These are sustainable food sources because they are locally grown and are organic. We learned this quarter that eating beef increased our carbon footprint, so though this is a delicious meal it is something that one shouldn’t over eat in a weekly menu.
Dessert: Greek yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, apples and, pears, drizzled with honey.
·         Dairy from Akyla Farms, fruits and honey from Mosby Farms. These are locally grown and organic items that taste delicious and are only eaten in season, therefore they are sustainable.



References
http://www.seattle.gov/environment/food/food-action-plan


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

REI---Selling Long Lasting Products & Excellent Customer Service/Comsumer Benefits


by: Zoë Pearson

reesebootsscreenshot.png

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild,  became a motion picture last November starring Reese Witherspoon.  Not only was the film crucially honest and beautifully inspirational, it also shed light on a company which values consumers and hopes they receive maximum use out of their products. The Seattle based outdoor company, personally assisted Strayed in a serious time of need. Due to the fact that she had bought too small of boots for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, her feet had undergone intense blistering. When taking them off to rest at the top of a mountain, Strayed loses one boot and chucks the other. At her next refueling station, REI was able to send her a new pair of boots in the right size for free. This gracious act of customer service stuck with her, making it into the big box office film.
REI sells and promotes products which are made for prolonged use….in fact they dare to write “nearly forever.”  This is an excellent company that fights against the cycle.
Learn More:




Television's Role in Planned Obsolesence



By: Zoë Pearson 

The main issue with planned obsolescence is that it requires a relationship where only one party benefits. Unfortunately, that party is corporations. Planned obsolescence helps businesses maintain high revenue with low production costs. Thus, consumers are continually buying expensive products that are designed to either break down, or surprise, be discontinued. This is where an entertainment company like Comcast comes in.

In order to attract new buyers, Comcast offers the best rates in the industry with monthly entertainment plans which include special channels and benefits. Only a year later, the plan is discontinued and instead of simply resigning for a similar package, one must sign on a new package with higher rates---4 to 5% higher. You can either make the choice to try a new plan or quit altogether, and of course people reapply. This built-in advertising tactic is extremely successful and does nothing for the consumer but empty their pockets. The price rises, yet there is no change or improvements with the products. I see a problem here. Though this is not a traditional form of planned obsolescence, it still fits the mold.

What would you do to change the cycle?

Go to the following references to learn more and create a plan against planned obsolescence:

Boycotting Microbeads: Fighting Against Planned Obsolescence

            In 2012, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the State University of New York-Fredonia conducted a number of studies in local reservoirs. Initially, the project was implemented as a means to compose a current recording of water pollution in lakes Haron, Superior and Erie. Prior to investigation, scientists estimated that much of the pollution in these waterways could be caused from micro-plastics, degraded from larger pieces of materials. However, they were not prepared to find thousands of perfectly spherical plastic beads. In fact, the presence of these beads was overwhelming, averaging 450,000 per square kilometer. Perplexed by this extreme accumulation of small, round multicolored plastics, researchers took initiative to discover the source. After further investigations, the mystery was solved—hygiene products. The tiny plastic balls were microbeads, commonly found in mainstream cleansing solutions and exfoliating scrubs.
             Polyethylene, (the most common plastic) is formulated into small microbeads as a common ingredient and/or filler in hygiene merchandise. For over five decades, trusted companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble have been implementing these tiny beads into their shampoos, soaps, tooth pastes, deodorants and facial cleansers. The beads are used as substitutes for more expensive natural solutions such as salts, walnut husks and apricot pits. It is estimated that American’s buy cosmetics containing over 537,000 pounds of microbeads each year. Formulated and designed to pass through our drains, by using said products, consumers are directly damaging their food sources. Sherri Mason, an environmental chemist at the State University of New York-Fredonia is ashamed of this manmade problem. The balls look exactly like fish eggs, and thus hundreds of marine organisms swallow the microbeads no longer hungry for healthier options such as plankton and algae.
            Not only do microbeads contribute to climate change and the growing issue of pollution, they also administer to planned obsolescence. By creating materials that are known to be less efficient than natural ingredients, corporations are guaranteeing consumers will need to purchase more products and at a higher frequency. Not only do they need a facial wash, they also have to purchase a zit cream, exfoliating scrub, toner and a moisturizing cleanser. Moreover, for greatest results, larger portions are necessary, requiring monthly or even biweekly replacements of products. Essentially, microbeads are one of the many procedures corporations use to cut corners and maximize profits. Do you want to be a victim of this vicious cycle, which does nothing but drain your own pockets? I don’t think so. Join the campaign to ban microbeads and fight against planned obsolescence: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/.
The following video is also worth of attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAiIGd_JqZc.

References:


Planned Obsolescence and What You Can Do

by Lindsay Pemberton

With the term coming to a close, there are some things that we can reflect on in the content that we have all visited. We looked through companies that encourage planned obsolescence, companies that have fought it, and the effects it has on our society, economy and our environment. We have lots to do as a society to help insight change in our cultures to help our environment and luckily, we are not the only ones concerned about this problem. There are many resources to look into for more information on planned obsolescence and our job as responsible members of society is not over, but it has just begun. If you need more information or want other ways to get involved see the links below for more resources, and have a great summer!




Patagonia Encourages Repair

by Lindsay Pemberton
Patagonia has begun a marketing campaign that would blow the minds of almost every CEO in the corporation world: they are encouraging people to repair their products instead of buying new. They even have a repair program with instructions on how to ship your products in for repairs. Yes, it costs a fee to send the clothing and items in for repairs, but it's much less than the original cost of the items themselves. If you have any Patagonia clothing, check out the link below for ways to ship in your items for repair or to even repair it yourself. Patagonia is reducing planned obsolescence one coat at a time. 

http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=5175 

https://www.ifixit.com/patagonia

Throw Out or Recycle?

by Lindsay Pemberton

Jamba Juice is particular favorite when the weather gets warm and you need a healthy smoothie to give you a boost and keep you cool. Their drinks served in styrofoam cups have recently had a uplifting change though! They are now served in paper cups that are made out renewable materials and are also fully recyclable. This change came because of Jamba Juice's commitment to better people through their products, and what better way to accomplish that than through their resources? According to their website, they researched multiple products that would accommodate their thick beverages, but were also completely recyclable. According to their CEO James D. White, “As a Company with a strong concern for people and the planet, we continually seek to improve our environmental footprint across all areas of our business, and our move to this innovative paper cup is a major milestone in these efforts. I am proud of the hard work our team has put forth over the past few years in finding a more viable solution for our cups.”  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

France Passes Law to Help Deter Planned Obsolescence

by Ashley Quinones

Photo from Digital Trends.

France has passed a law forcing appliance manufacturers to be upfront with customers about how long their products are built to last, and more importantly how long they will be providing access to replacement parts for their models or chance being fined. This is huge given how hard it can be to find replacements to broken items that are barely used, like this gentleman who tried to replace his 3-year-old lawnmower blade only to find it exceedingly difficult to find the correct part.

In conjunction to this new law, France also plans to target appliance manufacturers by passing a similar law requiring all new products to be replaced or repaired free of charge for the first two years following purchase. Having recently purchased a new washer myself and shelled out $100 extra on a 5 year warranty, this kind of mandatory included warranty would be greatly appreciate by my bank account were I a citizen of France.

France's hope is that measures like these help cut back on companies employing planned obsolescence as a marketing strategy. Hopefully their efforts prove to be a step in the right direction.



Information in this post from this article and this article.

Trash to Treasure: Combat Planned Obsolescence by "Freecycling"

by Ashley Quinones



Many people recycle to make an impact on their carbon footprint, and it certainly helps. There is also a pretty common phrase that states how one man's trash is another man's treasure, so it's no surprise that a site called The Freecycle Network exists.

As it states on their main page, their goal is to make the idea of recycling easier - instead just give your unwanted items away to others who do want them. You enter your location, such as Portland, OR., on the site's front page to see a listing of the groups nearest to you, and then it's just a matter of joining up. From there you can make posts offering something up for others to claim, requesting something you are looking for, or browse and contact post-makers to request their unwanted goods.

This isn't just a site for working items, or like-new items, the way using a consignment shop or donating to Goodwill is. People frequently post offering up old electronics that don't function for parts, scrap wood that others can turn into art or planter boxes, or old clothes for fabric scraps. The requests are just as encouraging. Something in your closet you haven't used in months or that old, nonfunctional computer monitor you have laying around just might be exactly what someone else is looking for, and giving it to them certainly cuts down on the amount of waste all around.

Example of another use for wooden shipping pallets - an item frequently requested
and offered on Freecycling groups. Photo from Inspiration Green Blog.

With the issue of planned obsolescence looming over us, the less working items we throw away for new ones the better. Why not give them to a new home instead?

For access to more information about The Freecycle Network and groups near you, just click the link provided in this sentence.


Happy Freecycling!


Self-Destructing Electronic Devices: A Step in the Right Direction?

by Ashley Quinones

Example of a self-destructing electronic component. A heating element is activated by radio signal, when triggered, and completely dissolves the device. Photo from Scott White.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have made a breakthrough in electronic waste, and more importantly what we do with the mountains of it being put in electronics each day. Instead of throwing out your old cellphone, camera, computer component, etc. - perhaps one day it will be manufactured to self-destruct. This process would either break down the device into nothing, or even just into it's respective molecular make-up thus allowing it to be recycled into a new self-destructing part.

While implementation is a thing of the future, the technology does exist. These University of Illinois researchers, headed by Scott R. White, John A. Rogers, have already managed to create examples of self-destructing devices using magnesium circuits printed on a thin square of flexible material. The circuits are coated in a fine layer of wax that contains drops of weak acid. When a radio signal is sent to the heating element within the device, it heats up and melts the layer of wax, allowing the acid droplets to come into contact with the circuit. This dissolves the device.


White and Rogers' team of researchers posted a video to YouTube explaining and demonstrating exactly how the whole process works:




Their common goal was to find a way to make electronic waste into something companies can break down, recycle and reuse. By altering the amount or type of wax, acid, etc. they can create devices that dissolve very quickly or at a slower rate that is measured in minutes rather than seconds.

Thinking of how often we do things like upgrade cellphones for newer models while the old one is still kicking, or upgrade computer parts to have a top-of-the-line rig, this kind of technology would certainly mean less waste in landfills and make the practice of planned obsolescence have a lessened effect in the electronic realm.

Information for this post gather from this article as well as this blog post.

Type 1 Diabetes Patients are a Cornered Market


 
Type 1 Diabetes Patients are a Cornered Market

by Katherine Millsap 

Some of the sliest ways that Planned Obsolescence is integrated into our society is through the guise of innovation in Healthcare and Medical Devices.   For example, Type 1 Diabetes medicines and devices are routinely replaced with upgrades or new product lines that demonstrate very little difference from the previous generation.   In an article Dr. Roy Pose is quoted as saying “That captive audience of Type 1 diabetics has spawned lines of high-priced gadgets and disposable accouterments, borrowing business models from technology companies like Apple: Each pump and monitor requires the separate purchase of an array of items that are often brand and model specific.”   Each new model of Type 1 Diabetes monitoring devices that come out have new disposable parts that need to be purchased regularly.

https://t1dexchange.org/pages/t1d-exchange-to-study-insulin-and-device-use-for-type-1-diabetes-management/

The medical device companies use the same disguise that the pharmaceutical industry use for their exorbitant prices and long-lasting patents- that the high cost provides them the financial means to continue to innovate.   Making products that are disposable and designed to only work with one generation of product lines is Planned Obsolescence.   However, these companies use the guise of innovation when marketing accounts for over twice the spending as new drug development and innovation.

Unlike the clothing or technology industries, patients utilizing products that practice Planned Obsolescence have much less control over their purchasing decisions.   They purchase what their insurance will pay the most for, what their doctors suggest, or what they’ve seen in one of the many direct-to-consumer advertisements they’ve see on T.V.  

So the real question is:   If we want to fight against Planned Obsolescence, how do we do that when we have to purchase an item for our health and life?



Monday, June 8, 2015

Keurig Coffee Creates Demand For Disposable Products


Keurig Coffee Creates Demand For Disposable Products

by Katherine Millsap


http://r3.forconstructionpros.com/files/base/FCP/image/2015/01/16x9/640x360/Used_K_Cups_at_Kamloops_Cement_Plant.54cb9b341e358.jpg
http://www.forconstructionpros.com/article/12040028/fuel-for-thought-coffee-waste-provides-energy-for-cement-plant

The Keurig Coffee machine, produced by Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Company, forces the consumer who wants to use their single cup coffee machines to buy coffee pods (called K-cups) that are single use and non-recyclable.   Their previous line of coffee makers, the K-cup Brewers, are their most popular line and were capable of utilizing plastic reusable coffee pods that could be filled with grounds for each cup of coffee.   This line was environmentally friendly as the only waste from making a cup of coffee was compostable coffee grinds.   However, along the lines of new products from technology companies, Keurig has come out with a new coffee brewer line called the Keurig 2.0 Brewer.   This new generation of coffee brewers has been aggressively advertised as an improvement from former models and therefore worthy of upgrading to.  

This new line of coffee brewers has shown to have only minor improvements by adding a carafe so larger amounts of coffee can be made, but the environmental impact has drastically increased.   The new K-cups for this latest brewer are not only unable to be recycled as the previous K-cups were, but also the company has not created a reusable pod.   This forces the consumer who wants to buy the newest machine to use environmentally damaging products.

What Keurig is doing is intentionally creating a demand for products that follow the Planned Obsolescence business strategy.   They have created the demand for the newest and shiniest model with few improvements that effect the actual use of the machine and then cornered the market with coffee pods that are one-time use and non-recyclable ultimately creating the never ending need for consumers to buy K-cups.

Keurig has reported that they sold over 9.8 billion K-cups in 2014, the vast majority of these are
non-recyclable and end up in landfills.   With the sheer volume of waste these brewers create, and the company refusing to create reusable pods for their latest generation, one must ask themselves if the convenience of a Keurig brewer is worth the environmental impact of their use?

http://www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/SOCIAL_SELLS_MAC04_3-1024x512.jpg
http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/coffee-pods-the-new-eco-villain/


For Keurig’s Sustainability Statement and 2020 Environmental Plans:

Article from The Atlantic with Interview of Keurig Inventor and Former Owner John Sylvan:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/

The Apple iWatch -- Dawn of a New Standard in Planned Obsolescence?

by Eliot Woodrich



Apple Promotional Image


Apple -- one of the largest producers of laptops, desktops and mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad have been cited as one of the most egregious offenders of industry practice to promote planned obsolescence in their product line. While the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have had some degree of repair capability (although restricted by the warranty) the iWatch is the beginning of a new era of truly "black box" electronics that cannot be understood nor repaired or diagnosed by even sophisticated consumers.

Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'

The British newspaper, The Independent, has called out the iWatch as a flagrant example of planned obsolescence and intentional restriction of end-user repair and customization by Apple. Some cited example ares the aluminum cast components that are either glued or otherwise secured to prevent modification, which is a step above most companies efforts to ensure customers do not attempt to repair or alter their own products.

The primary danger of products like the iWatch is that the predicted popularity will further accustom consumers to replacing the hardware even at the slightest fault instead of pursuing their own, or 3rd party repairs. If the module containing most of the iWatch functionality fails, the user is left with no other choice to purchase another, and efforts to modify watches that have been released have demonstrated this difficulty.

iWatch Teardown

iFixit.com

Is this the new standard in consumer hardware? Time will tell, but the signs indicate that companies like Apple are committed to continually reducing consumer's ability to repair and modify their products, and that there is no incentive for this trend to end anytime soon.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Modular Cell Phones and Delaying Obsolescence

by Eliot Woodrich


What if anyone could repair or upgrade their smartphone on their on schedule, and not the schedule of a profit-driven high stakes electronics industry. Some people legitimately prefer using their old devices, but as times goes on, certain lacking features may result in a perfectly functioning smartphone being thrown away in working order.


The company Phoneblocks has a novel approach to designing phone electronics where each component (like the camera, speaker, CPU) are separated into removable and upgradeable blocks. So if something breaks, it can be easily repaired with a new block. If a new technology is need on your phone? A suitable block could be added and it would be able to compete with new, non-modular phones.


Phonebloks.com

Another very similar idea is being considered by Google, called Project Ara, although both projects are still in the mostly speculative stage.

Google Project Ara

Modular smartphones would be a great way to at least delay obsolescence, and decrease the volume of electronics waste while saving money.

Join The Guardian Sustainable Business Network!

We have been responsible for gathering content concerning planned obsolescence and bringing it to your attention. One particular resource that has been very helpful to us in finding said content has been The Guardian. Be sure to join their Sustainable Business Network, as it will be sure to provide you with information that can help you grow as a professional, and that can show you how to contribute to your company in a way that can help it grow in an environmentally healthy manner. Career advice, short courses, and discounts on subscriptions can all be had at the click of a mouse.



Friday, June 5, 2015

Planned Obsolescence and the Automotive Industry

Blake D’Ippolito

The Automotive Industry is one sector of our economy that relies heavily on the planned obsolescence model. In 2014 alone, 16.1 million new cars and trucks were sold in the U.S... Every year, automobile companies come out with new and updated models, with only minor improvements.
The difference in price between a brand new car and the same car that is 2 years older is enormous. A 2015 Toyota Prius with no upgrades has an MSRP or $24,000. The 2013 Toyota Prius has with the same features has an estimated resale value of $16,000. This vehicle’s worth drops over 15% each year for the first 3 years of its existence!
The only benefits to owning brand new car is the warranty in case of any malfunctions. Even then, there are certified pre-owned vehicles that come with a warranty that are a few years old.


What can we do to curb car companies’ reliance on planned obsolescence with this information?




The best solution, based on pricing, would be to buy a vehicle that is two years old, from a certified pre-owned lot that offers limited warranties. These models often appear just as new as the current model, and most of their issues are well-documented. However, there is a trade off with buying a car that is older than two years old. As the vehicle ages, the price comes down. It also comes with more wear and tear on the car that can lead to major issues that costs hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to repair.

The Not-so-Near Future


Masha Limpahan

As we get older we are often asked about our plans for the future. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a question that is asked of us at many different stages of our life. The growing problem is that we have developed a short-sightedness about the future and often forget that our actions will still have an effect hundreds, even thousands, of years after we are gone.

This is not to say that people don’t worry about the world that we are leaving behind. I have heard many speak of the responsibilities we hold to the next generations, however, the next generation or two are still the very near future. In order to truly consider the effect that our wastefulness will have we need to zoom out even further than our children or grandchildren's lives because, chances are, the planet will not be covered in waste and resources will not be completely depleted in their lifetime. With projects such as the 10,000 Year Clock and The Rosetta Project, The Long Now Foundation is one organization that is promoting long-term thinking in creative ways. The kind of thinking that can remind both consumers and producers how much our practices can effect the future.

We’ve seen advertisers use psychology to get us to buy more, in order for us to move away from over consumption and the practices that support it, we have to make changes that are deliberate and they must happen on a massive scale. We have been talking about the importance of sustainability for years, it has even been shown that investing in sustainability can be profitable, and small changes have been made, but they are not enough. We must become more responsible consumers, we must hold companies accountable for damaging practices, and we must create policy that supports and enables sustainable practices and stops the destruction of developing countries and their people for profit. We must go beyond small steps in order to make real change.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recycling Techniques

By: Zachary Cope


Its no secret that we are accumulating waste at an astronomical rate. We live in a world of production. Everyday a new gadget or product is “innovated” only adding to the increasing waste. What are we doing with the waste? Well some waste is recycled and put back into more products and buildings and structures. Some waste is hidden deep in the ground, with the hope we can forget it exist.
 However people have started to learn that reusing items is better for the planet and the less resources we have to burry in the ground or burn into the atmosphere the better off we will be.
In recent years this “green movement” has started to take hold, and people are starting to see the implications our wasteful habits are having on our planet.
It is important to keep finding new ways to recycle our products and put them back into the new products we are creating each day. The longer we can stretch a resource the less of an effect it will have on us.
In recent years we have been putting more focus on finding ways to recycle things once thought to be pure rubbish.
For example Circuit boars for a long time were seen as garbage and sent straight to dumps after the aluminum and copper have been stripe form them. However in recent years scientist in China, have found ways to recycle the the circuit boards in ways no one has thought before.
The PCB’s are crushed and sorted, all the non metallic pieces are mixed in with a resin and polystyrene mixture. After this process, this mixture is heated and the results are a material that can be used to make fences, park benches, almost limitless potential.
Another example of an un-recyclable product was styrofoam. For a long time styrofoam was seen as a poison to the environment with no recyclable upside. In 2006 scientist found a bacterium that can eat this foam and in turn, be left with a usable plastic. This plastic also has biodegradable properties.

If you would like to learn more about these recycling techniques click the link Recycling Techniques

Cloud Offloading Model: Everyone Wins (?)


By Alex Avila

Consumer trends come fast, fleeting, and fickle. None of this rings true more than it does in the market of smartphones. What is hip and cutting edge now could be yesterday's news by the end of the year. 

Anytime that one thinks of planned obsolescence, it's clear that smartphones will come to mind quicker than most. That people have managed to stay so quiet in regards to the degree of said obsolescence is astounding in and of itself. But, what can we do about this? A recent report by The Green Alliance, there are six circular models that can provide a remedy, including one which the main author of the study says may work best. This is a model known as the Cloud Offloading Model.

So, what occurs under this model? Usually, after a mobile phone is purchased, it is used to replace an old phone which is seen as no longer satisfying to the consumer for whatever the reason may be. However, under the Cloud Offloading Model, this unwanted phone would be refurbished by the manufacturer, and then resold to developing and emerging markets. In a way, this is similar to what is currently happening with the "Mitumba" trade in Africa, where businesses take discarded, unwanted clothes from developing countries, and sell them in African countries. The one difference is that the manufacturers would benefit, as opposed to second hand retailers. 

It can be argued that when companies have an incentive to create more sustainable products, they often do. Being able to do the same to resell products can both enhance reputation and create a new market and audience in a new frontier. This model would also extend itself to laptops and tablets. There is a lingering question, though, and it's a large one: would consumers be willing to accept the fact that their old products, which may contain intimate and confidential data, be sold off to someone else? 



Architecture of Obsolescence

Where does Obsolescence for building start? Most of the time a client needs a building made for his/her company, calls up an Architect and has it designed around his/her requirements and needs for the building to operate efficiently for their company. This building gets built, and is used for many years for it intended purpose. Then one day the company goes out of business. The building sits begins to decay, and becomes unable because it don't suite other companies, to large of spacer or just not right for there operations. This building gets demolished and typically a new building gets put in its place for another company. This is truly not the way to go if we are trying to promote Obsolescence.
Now one great example of Obsolescence in Architecture is in Portland State University's campus. When PSU expands they typically retrofit a existing building within the area to meet there needs. Shattuck hall is one of those great examples. This building was build in 1915 as an elementary school. In 2008 it was remodeled for PSU and now holds the PSU Architecture program. This building and its inhabitance are helping promote and teach Obsolescence from within. This is how
Obsolescence can be taught and can be learned, through our great examples right in front of us.

The way future Architects will eventfully be forced to think is longer term, beyond the life of its original owner. It must not only meet the requirements from one owner but must be flexible enough to allow for many new inhibitors throughout the full life of the building.


Good watch/rear!
 https://vimeo.com/67723185