Sometimes it’s not useful to reinvent the wheel. So I’m lifting a paragraph straight from Beth Terry’s blog, Fake Plastic Fish. Here it is:
“Some analysts say we have less leisure time than any time since feudal society. And do you know what the two main activities are that we do with the scant leisure time we have? Watch TV and shop. In the U.S. we spend three to four times as many hours shopping as our counterparts in Europe do. So we’re in this ridiculous situation where we go to work, work two jobs even, and we come home and we’re exhausted. So we plop down on our new couch and watch TV. And the commercials tell us, ‘You suck!’ So we gotta go to the mall to buy something to feel better. And then you gotta go to work more to pay for the stuff you just bought, so you come home and you’re more tired, so you sit down and you watch more TV, and then you go to mall again, and we’re on this crazy work watch spend treadmill. And we could just stop.”
Basically, there are two things on my mind today – Planned and Perceived Obsolescence. Two constructs that contribute to our materialistic society. And part of the reason our oceans are filling fast with barely-used junk.
Planned obsolescence is a nefarious corporate scheme to design products resistent to repair. So that if your washing machine or ipod or television breaks, it will be cheaper and more efficient to buy another. According to greenlivingtips.com, taking good care to maintain your products is vital to getting the highest possible life from them.
That still doesn’t address the bigger problem – that of manufacturers designing products to break in time for the next generation of the same, leading to our culture of hyperconsumerism. Check out Fake Plastic Fish to learn what you can do to be part of the solution. My favorite suggestion is to buy refurbished and used products and then repair whenever possible.
On to perceived obsolescence, a product’s loss of desirability over time. Perfect examples: the electronics and fashion industry. The pair of boots or cell phone you have now become far less appealing once newer and flashier models appear. The desire to be current is more prized in mainstream society than the desire to conserve resources and utilize what we already have.
But we have a choice whether or not to participate in the rat race for more and better stuff. As Beth Terry says, “We could just stop.”