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Planned Obsolescence - Buy faster, throw away even faster


Planned Obsolescence


- Buy faster, throw away even faster -



Everybody knows it …
The warranty just passed and suddenly your new computer, flat screen or printer is broken and it’s not possible to repair it.

A lot of products
have purposely integrated weak spots. The shortened lifespan of the products leads to their fast end in the garbage and that generates a lot more income for the companies. For instance there are inkjet printers with an integrated chip to count the pages. After the chip reached a certain number of printed pages the whole printer turns dysfunctional. As soon as you reset the counter to zero (which is not easy to do) the printer starts working again.

There are a lot of products
where the experience and studies proof that their lifespan is shortened on purpose.

Products with shortened lifespan are:
lightning balls, tights, all technical devises with an integrated battery, tooth brushes, screens, washing machines, printers, boots, fleece, outdoor pants, laptops, mobile phones ….
You can find a long list with products with shortened lifespan here:

Unlimited growth and planned Obsolescence
We live in a system in which unlimited and destroying growth turns more and more into a self purpose. With a continuing growth of 3 % the national output is going to redouble every 23 years. With a continuing growth of 5 % it is going to redouble every 14 years. And an amount that growths exponentially multiplies with 1000 after 10 times of the redoubling time. Everlasting exponential growth is not possible in an economical system and leads unavoidably to self destruction.

In the end of the time of unlimited growth the purposely shortened lifespan is the only way to keep the system running. Most people just don’t have room to keep all the useless and ephemeral stuff they buy. “Buy fast, throw away even fast”, that’s the motto of the “I buy, so I am” civilisation and the call of the politics “consume more!” fits perfectly.

The hasted, unsure human defines himself through more and faster consume of more senseless and silly items. He works, lives and consumes more and more and faster and faster and so he becomes simultaneously more discontent.

“Throw away faster” and the end of the nuclear and fossil reserves
“These days we use in a single year as much resources as the earth has created in a million of years” tells us the BUND-studies “Zukunftsfähiges Deutschland”. Our culture is not sustainable.

Measures against the shortened lifespan
should be the priority of the Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz. Without the pressure of the environmental association and the media nothing is going to happen here. In face of the global shortage of energy and resources the Energiewende itself can only work with good, durable products. And the parties have to realize: The production of durable products creates jobs in Germany and Europe.

The might of the consumers against the
shortened lifespan was once successful: the US company Apple was put before court in 2003 by thousands of customers by a group action. The reasons were the iPods with a not disposable battery and a short lifespan. There has been no sentence because Apple arranged itself with the customers. But this case was still a first success in the fight for durable products.

If we
accept the shortened lifespan of toothbrushes, computers, tights and jeans and if the cycle of producing, buying, using and throwing away becomes shorter and shorter than we don’t have to wonder about the depletability of resources. We also don’t have to wonder about lengthening working times.
Using good, nice, useful and repairable products for as long as possible …
That’s the way how we can life the Energiewende.

An economical system,
in which companies focus on shortened lifespan of products is neither sustainable nor lasting. The companies bet on the silliness and manipulability of the consumers. Run time compressions are an offensive insolence and therefore they fit perfectly in our time.

Axel Mayer, BUND Geschäftsführer












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