We must create objects that people love to avoid the waste crisis
We live in a world that is drowning in objects. There are televisions in every room, kitchen cabinets stuffed full of blenders, cappuccino whips, and drawers packed with small devices powered by battery – which take 1,000 times more energy to produce than they can ever deliver.
In the early 1900s, disposable products like paper napkins and razors were considered low-cost. It is acceptable to discard anything, from a barely used smartphone, vacuum cleaner, or television to a three-piece set or fitted bathroom.
Electronic scrap has become a serious problem. The European Union is experiencing a three-fold increase in scrapped circuit boards, computer junk, and other waste. In the EU, we generate 40 tonnes of waste for every tonne of electronics produced. Yet 98% of those products are thrown away within six months after purchase. It would be worth it to take better care of our gadgets and repair them when they break. The opposite is true: Product lifespans are decreasing as material culture becomes more disposable.
It is not a new concept to talk about a “throwaway culture.” The term ” planned obsolescence ” was first used by American economist Bernard London in 1932 to encourage spending amongst the few consumers with disposable income during the Depression. Vance Packard popularised the concept in his The Waste Makers, published in 1964. The idea of disposability is a prerequisite for America’s cultural acceptance of change.
Feel good products
It’s possible to have a product that is both beautiful and long-lasting. Niklas Morberg, CC BY-SA
There is another approach – emotionally resilient design – that can reduce consumption and waste by creating a lasting relationship between the products we purchase and ourselves. It helps us create products that will last longer and offer a better experience. We use the term “emotional” because emotional and experiential factors are a major factor in driving wasteful consumption patterns and waste. We get tired of things. The novelty wears out, and we lose interest in them.
Can help create new business models that are sustainable and based on emotional durability. Longer-lasting products can be used to create economic models that revolve around upgrading and repairing products and retaining brand loyal customers, all without excessive waste.
We can design products that are easier to repair, upgrade, and maintain throughout their lifetime. Designing products that are easy to upgrade, repair, and carry over their lifetime is possible. While these strategies can be expensive at the point of purchase, they bring in revenue through service and upgrade packages.
Prolonging the life span of a product can have significant environmental benefits. Take a toaster, for example. It lasts around 12 months. The extra durability of the toaster would reduce waste by 50%, even if it only lasted 18 months. If you multiply this by a large number of toaster buyers, it becomes clear that this can have a significant impact.
A circular economy is less wasteful. WRAP
The consumer electronics industry is increasingly aware that it must move from a linear to circular economy. Circular economies are those that keep resources in use as long as they can. At the end of a product’s lifespan, materials and energy can be recovered or recycled to their maximum extent. This represents a paradigm shift, which affects everything from the design of products with a short life span to those that provide enduring material experiences.
The British people stopped being happier by simply having more things decades ago. The New Economics Foundation advocates an economy that is better than more. A world where things age gracefully, and last can be repaired multiple times before being recycled. This allows us to share better the excess of stuff that we already own. Creating products that are durable fosters a stronger relationship between the brand and the product, increasing the likelihood of brand loyalties maturing.
This emotionally durable design is not only a good idea from an environmental perspective but also a viable business strategy for surviving in a globalized, competitive world.