“The Conundrum” book review and Planned Obselence

I (Barb) recently read the book “The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse” by David Owen.  I would give it 4/5 stars. It had many thought provoking ideas/observations.

Planned obselence was one of those areas I hadn’t really thought much about before reading this book.  

Some of the ways manufacturers “trick” us with planned obselence:

  •  new features
  • more comfort
  • more efficient

Businesses need to make us feel ok about the purchase for their own economic outlook. They don’t care that their “old” product ends up in a landfill – as long as we keep buying!

So how have we fallen into the planned obselence trap?

  • New car with increased fuel efficiency. Granted our newest car is over 5 years old.
  • New cell phone because old phone wasn’t able to be updated.   Hubby’s iPhone 3 couldn’t be updated.
  • New computer since old operating system couldn’t handle certain programs.  Windows XP
  • New computer since operating system wouldn’t have any more security updates. Windows XP
  • New land line phone that would operate cordlessly.
  • Purchase of new appliances. Quieter dishwasher.

This list could go on, but you get the idea.  Some of these items have a limited “life expectancy”. Their internal parts allow only a certain amount of use. Manufacturers know this!  Repairs are next to impossible or the cost of a new item is more reasonable economically – get a new model for the same amount.

This has us rethinking much of the stuff we own. How can we cut down on falling for the planned obselence trap?   Why do we need to use energy resources when an “old-fashion” method would work just as well?  What can we do to decrease our “planned obselence” waste?  Awareness is key!


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3 thoughts on ““The Conundrum” book review and Planned Obselence

  1. I just added this to my to-read list. We had a discussion about this very topic recently when we received a tabletop ice maker as a “RV warming” gift. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it was more efficient to have a machine that had to run 23 hours to make a 20-lb bag of ice when I could walk to the office/store of almost any campground and buy one (if needed) or go real old-school and fill up an ice tray lol. When we took it back, the cashier gave us a gift card for the balance and I almost fell over dead. We would have had to make 1,800 pounds of ice with the thing for it to have ever reach cost efficiency!

    Liked by 1 person

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