At the Livermore fire station in California, a lightbulb still burns brightly after 100 years of service. This light bulb is a remnant from an industrial era when engineers invented products with the characteristics of durability and long life-expectancy in mind.

Contemporary light bulbs can hardly be expected to last 5 years, let alone 100. So what happened?

The documentary entitled ‘The Light Bulb Conspiracy’ provides one answer: planned obsolescence. This film recounts the history of how manufacturers came to value fragile, low-quality products while suppressing the inventiveness of select engineers who attempted to provide the world with astoundingly enduring things. According to the film, the practice of planned obsolescence is aimed at artificially creating demand for products. It is a terribly wasteful activity, and 3rd world nations like Ghana, which have become dumping grounds for ‘obsolete’ junk of the 1st world, are suffering because of it.

On a finite planet, the practice of planned obsolescence is imprudent, selfish, destructive to the environment, and insulting to consumers who (I am sure) would rather purchase a product that will last.

I say replace planned obsolescence with planned endurance.

 

Advertisements