- by Suzanne Sloan

My husband was an Industrial Designer and president of the Canadian Industrial Design Association in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In those years we  attended a number of international design conferences around the world. Spouses were allowed to sit in on sessions at these conferences and I sat in on many.

One topic I heard discussed often was planned obsolescence.

Manufacturers were endorsing and promoting the practice. This has always enraged me.

There was a time when products could be repaired — worn parts replaced. Today it is almost impossible to do that. 

The number of products declared obsolete is astounding! They fill our landfills and deplete our natural resources while manufacturers rub their hands in glee. They instruct their designers and engineers to produce prototypes of new and improved items that can be manufactured with that hidden weak part that is bound to fail — no spare parts will ever be manufactured — planned obsolescence!

I know we are all encouraged to contribute to saving our planet in many little ways, and so we should. Collectively that would do a great deal toward clearing  landfill waste and reducing our carbon footprint. However, I believe an even more effective approach would be to fine companies and manufacturers who delude consumers and, through planned obsolescence,  lure the public to replace products unnecessarily.

For example:

Self cleaning stoves that burn themselves out due to the excessive heat required to do that cleaning.

Frost free refrigerators do much the same.

Multi-setting clothes dryers. 

I learned the latter were about to be introduced to the marketplace, and in need of a  dryer myself, immediately purchased a still available single  setting model. That was in 1976. It was working perfectly in 2017 at the time I had to leave it behind when moving. For all I know it may still be working for the present occupants of that house. What I do know is that the only repair required during the forty one year period I had used it was one fan belt.

Sure, we can all contribute to saving our planet in lots of little ways, but I believe group pressure and political action to force the elimination of planned obsolescence might well contribute even more to stop the depletion of the ozone layer and the unnecessary waste of natural resources.

Planned obsolescence should be legislated illegal. Some countries have already done so, France being the first in 2015.

I leave you with this thought, Lobby for Canadian Banning of Planned Obsolescence. Inform government leaders of the practice, and insist they add it to their political platform.  Many politicians I have spoken to in the past seem oblivious to the term and its implications.



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