Designed Obsolescence

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Instead of being repairable and upgradable most products today are designed – yes, designed – with a maximum lifespan and then to be tossed out. In most cases this lifespan is a maximum of three years.

Software “manufacturers” and those of computer hardware seem to work hand-in-glove when it comes to this and almost every time that Microsoft releases a new version the Windows operating system one needs a new PC; if one uses MS Windows that is.

Other software and hardware also no longer works, more often than not, on older PCs and on older versions of the operating system and often old software and hardware are also no longer compatible with the new versions of MS Windows. Often one finds that printers, scanners, etc., are suddenly no longer supported.

This means that you not only may have to buy a new PC but also have to toss those items out and get new ones. Nice little earner for them all but not very sustainable.

However, as far as computers are concerned, and as far as they can be upgraded in respect of memory (RAM), and desktop and towers are much better in this respect as are laptops and let alone netbooks, they can still perform perfectly well, and even better, if the Open Source operating system Linux, in one of the other distros, is employed.

In fact, in 90% of cases Linux is far superior to Microsoft Windows and its footprint is much, much smaller and that in more than one way.

The entire operating system of Linux Ubuntu, for instance, still sits on one single ordinary CD, which means that it is 700MB or less, and that also includes an office suite, a Photoshop equivalent, and much, much more.

And this is just one example of how we can make things last well past the planned deaths.

However, we must demand that this designed- and factored-in obsolescence be done away with and that products are designed and made again in such a way that they can, easily, be upgraded and repaired, ideally by using (simple) DIY.

We owe it to ourselves, to our children and the Planet. Also, unless something can be repaired, ideally by ourselves or in small repair-shops, as used to be the case, we never ever really own that product.

© 2012