Sunday, May 31, 2015

DIY Approach to Resist Planned Obsolescence

by Eliot Woodrich

As smartphones, laptops, and tablets have become increasingly common, the rate at which new products are released has also increased. This has changed the focus from durability and maintainability of electronics to flashy features and short-term planning that result in a form of planned obsolescence. The manufacturers' expectation is that a device has a short life, and therefore would be replaced within one or two years, not last a lifetime. With that mindset, through hardware many devices have built-in planned obsolescence.

So what options are available for an average consumer faced with these challenges, and who wants to resist the obsolescence of their purchases?  

Often times, planned obsolescence in electronics can be most easily seen in the construction of the hardware on the device. The latest trends have resulted in fragile, glass-paneled, aesthetically driven products that are nowhere as durable as a Palm Pilot would have been a decade ago. Fortunately, for most devices, and with a bit of research and effort, nearly any issue with a device can be repaired by the consumer (although this would break the warranty, so generally is only necessary after the industry-standard 1-yr warranty has ended).
By Dezertscorpion (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For instance, the website iFixit lists repair guides for nearly every component in the latest iPhone 6 -- a device that to many people appears to be an impenetrable block of plastic and glass. Common failures like the Home button on iPhones can be easily repaired by following these, or similar guides, and may result in needing to purchasing a ten dollar button instead of a 500 dollar phone as a replacement. The site also contains guides for Android, Windows Phone, and many other electronics.

There are an abundance of tutorials and guides for nearly any device and type of hardware failure online, but the manufacturers of devices with planned obsolescence have managed to convince most consumers that there is no way to repair it yourself. To resist the trend of obsolescence,  keeping the device you already have and learning to repair it can guarantee many additional years of use than the manufacturer's planned.

What is the Omniprocessor?

by Zachary Cope
“Our whole economy is based on planned obsolescence.” —Brooks Stevens an American industrial designer of home furnishings, appliances, automobiles. 
This statement could not be anymore true today as it was during his lifetime. I feel like our cycle of build, buy, destroy may be to strong to change. Like Brooks Steven's said our whole economy is based on planned obsolescence. There would need to be major changes in laws and how we all looked at the world. This is why I feel our best plan of action would be to increase how much we recycle and how much of our waste is converted into useful fuel or resources. 
According to the EPA in 2012, of the 251 million tons of trash and  recycled composite. Of that waste 34.5% was recovered and recycled. 11.7% was translated into combustion and energy recovery. Leaving the remaining 53.8% discarded. In my opinion this is where our solution will come from, if we decrease the discarded and convert it to the recycled category we will be better off.
An example of converting waste into a useable resource is the Omniprocessor. This machine was created by Sedro-Wooley and is backed by Bill Gates. So what does this machine do? The Omniprocessor converts unusable water sludge contaminated by wastes and bacteria into drinkable water for people and more.
If we can continue to developed and create new methods and practices that convert and change our waste into a usable resource, we will have a much cleaner future ahead of us. Play the video below to learn more about this Omni Processor. Visit Bill Gates blog to learn more about what he's up to:

Rethinking Planned Obsolescence Through Circular Economics

by Jordan Berkley

Many of the arguments for the practice of planned obsolescence come from the economic standpoint 
of creating and sustaining a particular market. We can see through the example of many tech companies that creating 
a product that will deteriorate short term provides an endless market in which new products can be sold (i.e. cellphones, appliances, etc.). To dispel the exclusivity of success that the industry purports of planned obsolescence, the Green Alliance has put together a compelling report that models 6 circular economic plans within the tech industry. These plans are more sustainable and worth a look. The more economists like these that can work to find alternatives to planned obsolescence, the more positive the impact will be on the global environment 
and economy. Encourage colleagues and students to rethink past economic practices 
of planned obsolescence and show them that there are alternatives. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Illinois Man Fights Planned Obsolescence–Fixes the Un-fixable

by ?

Not everyone has surrendered to planned obsolescence. Some still remember what it 
meant to be able to fix a broken appliance, or open the hood of a car and see an actual engine, 
rather than a sheet of plastic put there to discourage tinkering.

While contemporary manufacturers will do everything to convince you that you need to spend more on a warranty or proprietary service, that’s rarely actually the case. Communities have popped up to refute these claims by manufacturers, and to teach each other how to fix what was previously considered to be the unfixable.

Don Stover of Illinois is one of those people. The owner of Don’s Uniques & Repairs, Stover spends his days fixing vacuums, radios and cameras, among other things. It’s a business, but according to an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat, it’s about more than the money.

Stover and his customers also believe in an economy that is not driven by exploitative business tactics and devices built to die.

You can learn more about Stover’s shop and what he’s currently working on at Don’s Unique’s & Repairs Facebook page.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Light Bulb Conspiracy

by Kate Schneider

For any of you wanting more information on planned obsolescence, there’s a really good documentary that extrapolates on the concept in more detail starting with its history.  

Beginning in the 1920’s, planned obsolescence was first executed by light bulb manufacturers to purposefully shorten the lifespan of their products in order to generate more profits from more sales.  From there on, a number of companies started implementing the same idea with their products as they quickly realized they could make more money manufacturing unsustainable goods.  Our profit-driven economy over the past century has enabled and allowed for corporations to exploit scarce resources for the sole purpose of remunerative benefits, all the while leaving environmental concerns to fall to the wayside.