“Built-in Obsolescence”

Within the article chapter “Waste Equals Food” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart it is suggested that products today are designed with “built-in obsolescence”. Products are primarily made with the idea in mind that they will be replaced and disposed of in time. McDonough and Braungart state that in previous centuries societies in fact were more sustainable–not because they were necessarily trying to be but they valued products, product life, and materials more so than we do as a society today. For example, they present the idea of metal being a valued product that was always melted down to be made into something else. Today, we throw away house hold appliances and they end up in landfills.

Learning about the idea of cradle to cradle within sustainability reminded me of the biomimicry section of this course. However, adopting cradle to cradle properties for our industry is more so mimicing the broad process of the current cycle of nature’s existence and its ability to be self sustaining. Wow! If businesses and homes could implement similar processes we would be on track to achieving a society built on reusing– generating renewable resources that would last us a lifetime, as well as our future generations as well.

Furthermore, for this vision to be achieved designers need to shift their mindset from designing products with “built-in obsolescence” to a mindset focused on designing products with a continuous life. Designers need to not just design a product but design a life for a product and a future.

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