Planned Obsolescence and Sustainable design

In industrial design, Planned Obsolescence is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.

Creating products which are meant to have a short life span or ” Designed for the dump” as Annie Leonard, the founder of  non-profit Story of Stuff Project calls it, stimulates demand by encouraging purchasers to buy sooner if they still want a functioning product. Built-in obsolescence is used in many different products and can influence a company’s decisions about product engineering. Therefore the company can use the least expensive components that satisfy the product lifetime projections

Electronic waste alone accounts for 25 million tons of waste a year. The big problem is that these products are produced with many harmful toxic chemicals, and all of that is ending up in a landfill overseas or being burned, thus releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. What goes in must come out.

Creating products which are sustainable is great but if we keep designing products which are meant to break down in a matter of months we really aren’t being sustainable at all. It is not the objects themselves which are unsustainable, it’s the systems that produce them. “…to be sustainable, any given asset, no matter what it is, must be kept whole,without making significant trade offs that undermine the capital used to generate and maintain it.”( Mathew E. May, In pursuit of Elegance pg 143)

As critical thinkers we have to restrain our self’s from the human instinct of reacting. Instead we must stop and contemplate the idea not only as a social issue but approach it in a way that we can creatively think as artists to come up with innovative concepts and designs.

“A sustainable idea is the visible outcome of viewing finite resources as scarce and precious…and exploiting the one external source of creativity and innovation: observation.” (Mathew E. May, In pursuit of Elegance pg 174)

by Emily Leon

 

 

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