// Posted by on 06/11/2015 (6:48 PM)

After reading Made To Break and watching the videos my head is spinning. I don’t know if I view planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufactures to swindle consumers or if it is essentially the work of competitive technological forces that lead to the improvement of our goods and services. Although there are industries that essentially function on planned obsolescence, for example the garment industry, last year’s fashions are replaced by this year’s new fashions. The deliberate manufacture of products designed to fail or producing effectively toxic and hazardous products, with a limited life span, without the management of their product’s lifecycle, is appalling.

These videos and reading make it so apparent that to be a responsible consumer today you need to know where your e-waste is going. It is more than just making the choice to do the right thing and bring your e-waste to free collection events. It is also about knowing where it goes from there. All electronics eventually end up at a recycling company at some point. Bringing e-waste to charitable programs and take-back programs are not responsible if the e-waste is only another path to unscrupulous recyclers.

I guess that it just all comes down to money, the manufacturers use planned obsolescence to essentially swindle consumers into repetitive buying and the impoverished individuals that are breaking down the e-waste are doing so for the money. But like Mike said in the video, they are exchanging their life of poverty for a lung full of poison. It is horrendous that these practices are happening and that more isn’t being done to stop it.

The reading and videos leave me feeling a bit confused as to what to do about the massive e-waste problem. I don’t know if the manufacturers that are developing electrical products need to be held accountable for the product’s lifecycle or if the products need to come with warning labels. It is evident that something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly as it is evident that societies reliance on personal technology such as cell phones, laptops, computers, and printers is increasing. The consumption is reckless and is not sustainable. It needs to be done responsibly or we all loose.

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Rosatelli said...

Hi Jessie,

I sense your frustration! The good news is that there are solutions, but they often come at a price. Should consumers put pressure on manufacturers to take control of the entire lifecycle of a device? For example, should Apple be forced to collect and responsibly recycle all of the devices it sells? Would that incentivize Apple to make more sustainable goods? Or would they simply pass the cost on to the consumer? Should the government regulate all devices sold in the US to be properly recycled? It could create jobs, but would consumers be willing to pay for proper recycling? There are questions, but I think we have to be made aware so we can come up with good solutions.

// 06/12/2015 at 2:35 pm

BonnieG said...

I don’t know what can be done? Consumers are not going to stop purchasing electronic products, and disposing of them. Nor are companies going to slow down production, and thus e-waste will continue to be a global problem.
Today at work, I was looking over a Jackson National application. Something I do every day, but this time I noticed, and read over the e-delivery column. It said “Go Green” It’s the best thing for environment. At work we push for our clients to “Go Green”. I don’t know if that’s the best thing to do, because going green seems to only help businesses make more money, and harms the environment.

// 06/12/2015 at 7:20 pm

Jessie said...


Thank you for your comment. The solution to the issues are definitely elusive but to get to a solution you first need to understand the problem. The continuing green rhetoric is part of the problem. There is a feeling of guilt associated with printing and it is viewed as environmentally unhealthy, which essentially forces people to turn to the invisible alternatives that technology offers. I think that printing is essentially more sustainable than technology. There are many in the world that are unaware of the devastating effects that technology has on the environment and its potential to corrupt other cultures. But with knowledge comes power and the sharing of knowledge, like we learned about in the beginning of the course, just might be part of the solution.

// 06/13/2015 at 3:03 pm

Lois said...

Hi Jessie,

I enjoyed reading your post. You mention reckless consumption by the consumer – I think the average consumer is just not educated about the consequences of e-waste and if they were, I wonder how many consumers would adjust their purchasing patterns? My guess is not very many, unfortunately.

We live in a “get it now” minded society. It’s not just e-waste we all should be concerned with, but all types of waste and how it is disposed of. Most manufacturers of goods are focused on the bottom line and that is profit. Until they too are educated on how to produce degradable products or products with much longer shelf lives, we, as a country are going to face many consequences, primarily health related due to the toxicity of the materials thrown in to dumping sites.

I’m not sure how to begin addressing such a large and impactful issue but I know that now is the time.

// 06/14/2015 at 2:18 pm