America the Great. (But Really… We are. Just not at this.)

// Posted by on 06/11/2015 (12:29 PM)

Slade writes that “deliberate obsolescence in all it’s forms — technological, psychological, or planned — is a uniquely American invention.” The videos we watched, especially “E-Waste Hell”, focus on how we “outsource” our garbage- harming others in the process. This all made me wonder… If we are exploiting others as landfills and exporting our problems… then we have most certainly exported our unquenchable desire for repetitive consumption as well.

Let’s talk about eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa.  Body Dismorphic Disorder. Bulimia Nervosa. Binge Eating Disorder.

All of these diseases are American born and grown, and they are now in countries across the globe. We know, for a fact, that we socially infected others as patient zero. That leads me to ask: Are we patient zero in wastefulness and planned obsolescence as well? I always assumed that other countries used disposable goods (if they were economically sound enough) and they tossed aside their non recyclable electronics… just like us. Now I think they are doing these things BECAUSE of us.

(This is an excellent piece about how culture-specific disorders can spread: 10psyche-t.html?_r=0)

We seem to think that because our nation is basically still in its infancy compared to other ancient and historic societies, that whatever we do… must have come from them, in some way, at some point. But now we know that theory is not true.

Since we have potentially infected nations, across the globe, with “Planned Obsolescence Disorder”- it’s our responsibility to lead a campaign to stop it. Or, at the very least, we should start cleaning up our own mess and managing our own trash.

We are bringing electronics (that we simply throw away for updated models) to countries and continents where the majority of its people cannot count on running water each day. Does that seem a little messed up to anyone else?

I am not saying America is evil. Because we’re not. We are hardly the worst… but it is time we stop pretending we are the best. – Shout to HBO’s “Newsroom” for pointing this out: (the clip is 4 minutes long but worth it)

The Explicit Truth About America

Perhaps the first step of re-establishing our greatness as a superpower is taking on our electronic waste and finding a way to deal with our own problems, rather than creating them for others.

I work in communications and marketing. I am all for stabilizing a brand and pushing a product or service. In fact, in order to survive, we need constant consumption. So, if getting rid of disposable products isn’t the answer, then maybe we should focus on the PROPER disposable of these goods.

Hey, Apple (who I love dearly… seriously I am a FanGirl about their new gadgets): Instead of making me buy a new iPhone that is practically the same as the last, make new features attachable, or have us pay for upgrades instead of new hardware.

We need to be talking about this more. So, who begins the conversation? Is anyone willing to sacrifice a few dollars to do it? If nothing else, tech companies should be swooning over the positive PR of being the pioneer on cleaning up America’s E-waste.



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Rosatelli said...

Hi Kindall,

I love your approach in this post. Your link to e-waste as a cultural disorder is quite interesting, and you definitely can provide evidence to support it. You also rightly note that turning this ship around can be a really positive thing. From a PR standpoint, I would be much more inclined to purchase an Apple product if I knew that Apple was 100% responsible for its entire life cycle. Consumers, overall, want to be responsible, but they have to know that there is an issue first. I also see real opportunity here for companies to take the lead and build brand loyalty from a “green” perspective. As for the tons of waste that is not current, old televisions, etc., what do we do? Is this something that the government can control better? Should we be looking to private enterprise to innovate a better solution?

// 06/12/2015 at 2:58 pm

Shirley said...

Very thought provoking. The entire time I read this weeks assignment my jaw continued to drop… so naïve. However, it did motivate me to do more… found this article… If we each do a little it has to make a difference. I need to rethink my Christmas shopping list…

// 06/12/2015 at 6:09 pm

David said...

Do you think that it’s possible that we got to where we are now too fast? If we had progressed, digitally, more slowly would the drive to purchase the latest and greatest be so strong? I fully agree that the consumer is just as responsible for this as everyone else, but I think there should be some push back on our drug dealers too. Maybe Apple could be limited to one new phone or OS or tablet every 5 years and in the interim focus on R&D to make the next model more sustainable. Additionally, they could spend the time coming up with better ways to dispose of the materials that already exist in the phones they have on the market.

I think we’re ending with these ideas, as when compared to the bringing people together ways of the early Internet, we see more people interested in materialism and the acquisition of goods not in communing with like minded people.

// 06/13/2015 at 5:00 pm

Kindall said...

Dr. Rosatelli: I think all wasteful behavior is a cultural disorder. Too many people around the world are using every once of everything they have. In places where you eat every bit of food you are given, because you’re starving, there is no way to throw away food just because you don’t like it or you had too much to eat. Unfortunately, I believe that in fruitful economies- there will always be waste and obsolescence. But I still think that we should be working harder to minimize that. Like you said, I would be more likely to buy from a company that was working to eradicate e-waste… even if that means switching over to the dark side that is Microsoft.

Shirley: That is a great article. And I will absolutely be re-thinking my Christmas list from now on.

David: Yes! Exactly! We should be holding our drug dealers accountable. I love the idea of only being able to release a product every so often. My only concern would be: What would happen to our economy if production slowed and consumers weren’t purchasing as much?

Many our ability to obtain new technology that is newer, better faster isn’t wrong. Maybe designing a new product for each advancement (that could fit in the original model) is too much?

// 06/13/2015 at 10:22 pm