Understanding Planned Obsolescence

Understanding Planned Obsolescence Book Cover Understanding Planned Obsolescence
Kamila Pope
Kogan Page

Is deliberately planning a product to have a specific and limited life span ethical? Is it right to make something stop working with the aim of getting new business? Of course, some obsolescence can be inevitable, things wear out, technologies change and suchlike, yet business-at-large is not automatically a stranger to such activities either (lightbulbs, anyone?).
Maybe some of the obsolescence is (partially) of our own making too, with our desires for fashion and constant changes in taste. So, this book, which looks at the issues that can exist around planned obsolescence, was particularly interesting, considering that issues such as the overexploitation of natural resources, increased waste, social impact and costs are timely. Did you think that this alleged problem was restricted to the high-tech and consumer industries? Think again…
The author far from advocates such a practice, examining its sustainability, legal and economic issues and supportive manufacturing strategies. A new way of working is being called for and is examined at the same time. It may feel a bit of a specialist read and unfortunately its price tag may put it out of the reach of many readers who would otherwise have enjoyed its contents. Yet for those who can get access to it somehow, it may be a worthy, considered read. It is far from a hysterical, greenwashed rant, where any justification may get lost with an invective and screeching tone. The language and style of the book may slightly impede the casual reader at times, however, but one’s focus and attention is justified.
Whether the message will get through to those wielding the levers of power remains to be seen. It may be a long, hard fight needing a lot of consumer demand. It is not a manifesto to stand still either, but a practical and reasonable request to stamp out a practice that not be justified either. Definitely something to consider.