About greener gadgets “The World is big enough for everyone needs – but it is too small for the GREED of one man!” (Mahatma Gandhi)
I watched the documentary “Comprar, tirar, comprar”, directed by Cosima Dannoritzer and co-produced by Spanish TV. Filmed in Catalonia, France, Germany, U.S.A. and Ghana it is about a business practise that deliberately withhold efficiency from products, consequently decreasing their lifespan. This documentary is the result of three years research about planned obsolescence, with different examples and the consequences from this practise. What shocks the most was seeing that countries in Africa, like Ghana, are becoming the world landfill of electronic waste. 2
It’s true that products from the past last longer then the one’s we find now in stores. So many home appliances my mom have for decades, from before my sister and I were born, still work perfectly. These objects are older then me, and their performance is much superior to any others I could buy now. It would make sense that with the advance of technology, products would have a better quality, but that is unfortunately not happening. And why is that? Because there is a whole economic theory behind it. If products doesn’t last long, if they break or go out of fashion, people will have to consume more and more, consequently economy will grow. This it’s called Planned Obsolescence. The economic system, our society is based on, is wrong. It makes few really rich and others slaves. If people wouldn’t consume like they do, jobs in the whole world would be gone... it’s a chain with no way out for the masses. In the meanwhile we are contributing for a planet full of junk, polluting it in many ways from the waste of no longer useful objects to the transportation of these items from one side of the world to the other. Does it make sense that a product that is produced in the other side of the world is cheaper then one produced in your own country, even in your village? A lot of things don’t make sense in this system, and it will break by itself. There are already indicators that people give more value to products that they can connect emotionally, like crafted products. This is a trend we are seeing now, it’s going back to past, to relations with memories and objects with value for it’s durability and efficiency. I believe that in the future people will value more a product that can be updated or re-personalised then having to buy different ones each year cause they run out of fashion, or they became obsolete. Another trend that can help solving the waste, is what I call the convenience trend, merging in one object different functions, making people’s life easier, by synthesising their possessions and keeping the world tidy with less waste. 3
A great example is LINC, a conceptual smart phone service, design by The Greener Grass. The smart phone combines the typical, cell phone, a media player, a web browser, GPS, downloadable content, Bluetooth, wifi, etc. It is designed as a service, not a product. The smart phone is leased to the user for about a year until the next generation of hardware appears and it becomes obsolete. When that happens the user will receive a new LINC and just needs to send the old one to the manufacture. All personal info, like the phone book and other personalised settings, is wireless transferred to the new phone. It is designed for automated disassemble, the parts doesnâ€™t contain any paints or adhesives, so the manufacturer can easily recycle it to pure grade materials for immediate reuse. This is an example of how to change the system, â€œLinc changes the entire paradigm of the production and consumption model todayâ€?.