While researching planned obsolescence I have wondered, what makes it work? Why is it that we allow companies to control what and when we buy items? Often, we are aware of that control, and yet we continue to allow this phenomenon. Why?
Our society is based on consumption, with an economy that depends on people buying stuff. The more stuff we all buy, the better the economy fares. When stuff is bought, the company makes money, hires more employees, and buys resources to make more stuff from other companies who, in turn, repeat the process. On the outside the trickle-down effect works, however, if we look deeper we can see the much bigger issues that the process has created. The resource depletion, poverty, and the heaps and heaps of trash are just the tip of the iceberg. We’re running out of space for all of this stuff. Literally.
Part of the reason planned obsolescence ‘works’ is because we can never have enough. Before the 60’s marketing was based around long-lasting products, things that were essential, that consumers needed. When Edward Bernays re-created the system from being based on need to being based on the wants of the public. This is still in effect today. Instead of focusing on the products that we need, and making those products long-lasting and effective, companies market products by appealing to our desires, making heaps of newer, shinier, and more advanced versions of things we already own. We buy things with the complete understanding that they will break down sooner rather than later, and we will be forced to replace them.
The reason planned obsolescence works is because marketing strategies have become so clever and advanced as to have effected our thinking. That means that in order to make planned obsolescence obsolete we need to change our mentality around making purchases, replacing products that we own, and what we do with our used items.
By Masha Limpahan
By Masha Limpahan