When planned obsolescence goes too far, the people of the Right to Repair want the right to…repair things. They aren't fighting back with pitchforks and torches, but rather, screwdrivers and torch lights.
As a prepper, having supplies that last and are able to be repaired can only be a good thing. And part of the reasons it's so difficult to reduce our consumerism is that everything just keeps breaking on us.
So, what do climate change regulations, so-called efficiency products, and planned obsolescence all have in common?
All three are crashing into each other and making everyone miserable and poorer.
What is planned obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence means the deliberate altering of a product to break down at a certain point (often right after the warranty is up) forcing the consumer to buy another. Another aspect of planned obsolescence is designing the product to prevent repair either by gluing parts together or using obscure parts and not allowing the sale of spare parts. In many cases, the products are too cheaply made to warrant money spent on repairs, so millions of products end up in the dump, making people wonder why they buy things in the first place.
Car manufacturers are notorious for planned obsolescence now. Older cars are now prized for their repairability and ease of getting spare parts. One of the most insidious examples of planned obsolescence is when Apple was caught deliberately slowing down older versions of its iPhones. Appliances and electronics are among the most infuriating culprits. "Fast fashion" is the clothing version of planned obsolescence.
Planned obsolescence has coincided with the climate change fever pitch and the fear of CO2 emissions. These two things have coincided with goods that are ostensibly manufactured to be energy "efficient." As some folks are pointing out, however, it is anything but efficient to create more and more junk, then having it sit in landfills and break down into the environment.
How can you have environmentally friendly products that do nothing more than create waste? A senseless waste of resources. In 2017 alone, 525,000 tons of waste electronic and electrical waste were collected, just in the UK. And this waste only applies to household appliances. This is to say nothing of the labor involved to mine the resources and make these cheap goods.
More than that, people are just plain ticked off to have spent so much time and money on products that are purposely designed to break and engineered in a way that bans people from repairing them. It's not that people don't want to repair products. It's that the product doesn't allow for it – there are no available spare parts. And most frustrating of all, it can cost more to repair some products than to buy more.