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Obsolescence, How It Affects Everything We Buy...

July 2nd 2014
By: Acquarone

If you are a home owner you will probably be aware of planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence, it can affect anything from your white goods to print cartridges. It’s a predicted fault which is put in at the manufacturing stage to make sure that you will need to replace an item after a certain amount of use or when fashion depicts.  

This process has been used for years around the globe and started with the Phoebus Cartel, which included among others, Osram, Philips and General Electric between 1924 and 1939. They signed an agreement to ensure that they manufactured light bulbs that had a planned obsolescence, which resulted in light bulbs lasting for 1000 hours rather than 2500 hours, enabling them to lower the costs of manufacturing and increase their sales.

Other manufacturing companies also introduced this process, such as General Motors, who convinced car owners to replace their car every year to keep up with the latest fashion trends. By the late 1950’s planned obsolescence was used widely in the manufacturing process either with products that are designed to break easily or go out of fashion.
As homeowners, we are constantly bombarded with the latest must-haves encouraging us to part with our hard earned cash on every turn, increasing consumption, which seems to keep the wheels of the economy turning in the Western world.

However in a time of global over consumption, should it be acceptable that manufacturers can legally continue to use planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence? As a nation we have never been more aware of the global impact our over consumption is having on the environment, and with spending power on the decrease, perhaps it’s time to question the morality of obsolescence within our society. We would love to hear your views about designed manufacturing faults and whether you have found ways in your every day lives to increase the duration of your goods?