In the world of green, there is a lot of dialogue about obsolescence - defined by Wikipedia as, "the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that is superior in one or more aspects."
How does obsolescence affect the environment? Environmentalists point to the two types of obsolescence: perceived and planned. Planned obsolescence, meaning the process of a product becoming obsolete or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer, is an accepted practice in our lives today. Equally insidious is perceived obsolescence: the part of planned obsolescence that refers to "desirability". In other words, an object may continue to be functional, but it is no longer perceived to be stylish or appropriate, so it is rendered obsolete by perception, rather than by function. Many of us aren't even aware of how obsolescence affects our lives, let alone the Earth's environment.
Sociologists have long studied the effect of obsolescence from a societal and economic point of view, citing "hyperconsumption" as a leading cause of financial stress for many individuals ("Hyperconsumption, global warming, and the fall of basic-goods buying power among the middle class," Richard Clark, OpEd.com, December 24, 2007).
And that's not the only downside. Obsolescence, especially in today's "disposable" world, is responsible for much of the damage to our environment. As Anne Leonard points out in The Story of Stuff, "If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets. And you know what? We've only got one."
Environmentalists are advocating the non-consumer movement, encouraging people to make their vehicles last longer, reuse and recycle items in the home (in the areas of decorating, maintenance and cleaning), resist giving into the fashion trends (or recycle your clothes from ten or 20 years ago-they eventually come back into style. Look at the leggings, tunics and ballet flats from the 1980s that have made a comeback today!), and find ways to make your electronics go further (do you really need the latest and greatest Smartphone?).
At Pink Goes Green, we've advocated for reusing, recycling and reducing from the beginning. Take a look at these blogs for more ways to beat obsolescence, and remember to stop and think before buying something new or tossing something old into the trash.
Ideas for Reusing Everyday Items
How Today's Housing Trends Help the Environment
Recycle Those Holiday Cards . . . and Other Green Ideas
Eco-Chic: Green is the New Black
Go Green by Going Vintage
Growing Green Kids
Additional information can be found on:
Green Living Tips
Money Vs. Debt.com
Going Green or Going "Green"
And here are some great tips for consuming less during the holidays: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/tips-for-consuming-less-during-the-holidays.html