Have you ever heard of planned obsolescence? If the answer is no, consider this an introductory lesson. Capitalist tricks 101, class is now in session. In 1924, lightbulb companies formed a cynical cartel. They agreed to rules about what they can and can’t sell. They cut the lifespan of products to get their profits to swell. And it worked so well that now, this underhand tactic is common industry practise.
From your printed ink to your tablet, wealth is being extracted at your expense and you don’t know where from whence to seek recompense because we are all bound in a system that rewards thoughtless negligence as long as it makes a few extra pence, ignoring evidence of a growing environmental, ethical elephant in the room. Now I’m forced to be the harbinger of doom. See, this world has provided all we will ever need and even now it caters for all our greed. But one day, its finite resources will finally be exhausted by unchecked market forces. The only question is how soon? There’s a second meaning nowadays to the old phrase they used to say about consuming an apple a day.
See, the fruit keeps the doctor at bay and will decay when thrown away. But we now develop hardware which is more there and once consumed should be here to stay. But once again, thanks to planned obsolescence and advertisement’s omnipresence, goods are often discarded before their natural end. From source to market to landfill, they are condemned as consumers try to keep up with the latest trend. Take, make, dispose. Take, make, dispose. Take, make, dispose. Take a look at any of the world’s natural cycles and rhythms– the water cycle, the life cycles of a plethora of flora and organisms– and realise how unnatural our society truly is.
Consume at all costs and then dump what we consume, no care for where it goes or if it will be renewed– that’s crude, but it’s not your fault or mine. It’s a flaw of the way the system has been designed and it’s time for a shift of our collective economic mind. Some pause for thought in this world of sold and bought, pause for consideration given to a more sustainable vision.
Imagine for a second a company for whom profit is not an obsession so you can grow to an extent but not to the detriment of the environment– a company whose motivation came from driving innovation like Henry Ford and his Model T, built with integrity, designed for longevity, named car of the century, proving that durable design can still hit the bottom line. If it’s quality designed, it stands the test of time.
Now, imagine if this visionary entity was not one, but one of plenty, one of dozens or hundreds of companies seeking to utilise the abundance of resources that are already in circulation, galvanising each other to solve the complex equation, bringing social, technological, and green goes into harmony, following the principles of a circular economy, an economy which is restorative by design, keeping products at their highest utility over time, redefining value creation, refining operations, reducing waste and emissions, rethinking product decisions, reusing components cleverly, recovering precious energy, revolutionising design, responding to the times, recycling, repairing, refurbishing and sharing, caring, doing all of this, and therefore daring to do what must be done for the benefit of everyone.
Now imagine being a consumer of the future or a fully sustainable producer looking back to this era, being able to say that you brought us nearer to where we are today. Will we embrace and make real the ideal of circular economics? or will we be the generation that conceived it but turned away from it? Thank you so much for watching the video. I really hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please consider liking or sharing the video and subscribing to our channel. This video is just one of a series of five poems written about supply chains to try and educate and inspire people to notice and act on the supply chains that surround their lives.
The project as a whole is called My Chain Reaction and you can find out more about it at mychainreaction.org. Crucially, that’s also where you can submit your own stories about supply chains and read other people’s stories, educate yourselves, and have a bit of fun doing it. Check out the other poems. Have a great day.