For the past 100 years, light bulbs have had an engineered limited lifespan.  Today, it is common practice for all products, especially technology, to have a limited lifespan. 

This intentional practice, known as planned obsolescence, is a controversial strategy employed by major manufacturers to force you to buy their bad products and pad their pocketbooks.  

While planned obsolescence may seem beneficial for businesses, it has far-reaching consequences for the environment, society, and the economy.  

The term to describe the effect of bad choices by corporations choosing to manufacture and sell defective products followed by consumers choosing to purchase those products, knowing they are buying a bad product but doing it anyways, is planned obsolescence.


Planned obsolescence refers to the deliberate design and manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan, pushing consumers to replace them sooner rather than later. This practice has become increasingly prevalent across various industries, from light bulbs to electronics, to fashion, to shopping bags, plastic water bottles, the toy industry, and many others. By creating products that wear out, manufacturers ensure a continuous demand for their goods, resulting in increased sales and profitability. The light bulb was the very first product mass produced and engineered to fail.  The original brands in lighting started it all.


Environmental implications of planned obsolescence 

The environmental implications of planned obsolescence are alarming.  

As consumers discard products prematurely, landfills become filled with non-biodegradable waste. Materials used in manufacturing, such as plastics, metals, and mercury, leak into the soil and water, causing pollution and health risks. Additionally, the extraction of finite resources to meet the demand for new products exacerbates environmental degradation and resource depletion. The throw-away society that planned obsolescence promotes directly contributes to the unsustainable consumption patterns that our planet can no longer sustain. 

Planned obsolescence effects on society.

Planned obsolescence has profound effects on society. By constantly introducing new products and rendering older ones obsolete, manufacturers perpetuate a culture of consumerism. This constant desire for the latest and greatest fuels a cycle of materialism, where individuals are encouraged to define their worth and identity through the acquisition of new possessions. This societal pressure to keep up with the latest trends and technologies can lead to financial strain, debt, and even a sense of dissatisfaction as the pursuit of material possessions replaces meaningful experiences and relationships. 


Planned obsolescence undermines the principles of durability and craftsmanship. In the quest for shorter product lifecycles, manufacturers prioritize cost-cutting measures and sacrifice quality. This creates products prone to failure requiring frequent repairs or replacements. Consumers are left with a sense of frustration and distrust towards brands, eroding the value of long-lasting and reliable products. 

From an economic perspective, planned obsolescence may seem beneficial in the short term as it stimulates consumption and drives economic growth. However, the long-term consequences are concerning. By perpetuating a culture of disposability, planned obsolescence hampers sustainable economic development. It discourages investment in durable and repairable products, reduces job opportunities in repair and maintenance sectors, and perpetuates a linear economy that disregards the principles of circularity and resource efficiency.

What you can do to end the terrible practice of planned obsolescence 

To combat the negative effects of planned obsolescence, awareness and consumer activism are crucial. You and I CAN make a difference by making informed choices, supporting brands that prioritize durability, repairability, and sustainability. By demanding transparency and holding manufacturers accountable, we can encourage the adoption of sustainable practices and promote products that are built to last.

Governments and regulatory bodies could play a vital role in addressing planned obsolescence. Implementing regulations and standards that promote product longevity, repairability, and eco-design can incentivize manufacturers to produce more sustainable and long-lasting goods. By supporting initiatives that encourage circular economy models, we can transition towards a more sustainable and responsible approach to consumption. As consumers we cannot rely on the government to prevent planned obsolescence, for many political campaigns are funded by corporations who are pushing their own agenda.

By recognizing the environmental, social, and economic consequences of this practice, we can work together to challenge the status quo and create a more sustainable future. Let's strive for a world where durability, repairability, and conscious consumption take precedence over the short-sighted pursuit of profit. 

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