Planned Obsolescence


The other day when I tried to use my printer, it said, “check your color cartridge.”  I had recently installed a brand new color cartridge in it.  I followed the instructions, but it continued to tell me to check the color cartridge.  I figured maybe it meant the black cartridge so I installed a new black cartridge.  No matter, the instructions wouldn’t go away.  I unplugged the printer and plugged it in again.  Slowly the printer began to print.  I’ve noticed this happening more and more frequently.  The printer would take minutes to print out a page, sometimes not completing the job at all.  I was fed up.  “How long have I had this printer?” I wondered.  It didn’t seem that long ago when it was brand new.  I was elated with its many features.  Unlike my old printer that only printed, this one copied and scanned in black and white as well as color.  Five years had passed since I’d replaced my old printer with this one.  Because having a working printer is essential to my work, I went out and bought a new one.  What to do with the old one?  I asked myself.  Toss it in the garbage bin like rotten meat? I envisioned my printer setting on a mountain of trash to become part of a landfill.  Sell it to some unsuspecting soul at a yard sale or on eBay with glowing reports extolling its special features? 
Come to think of it, lately objects I bought not that long ago like my garbage disposal, steam cleaner, and my computer have all quit on me.  Is this a conspiracy? I wondered.  In all fairness, when I checked to see how long ago I purchased these items, it had been a little over five years ago.  Is this how long something you’ve paid good money for suppose to last?  I’ve heard the term “planned obsolescence;” however, I wasn’t conscious as to the real effect until I noticed it happening to me.  I know I have to replace these and other items such as my cell phone and camera, as they are important to me.  Keeping up with the changes in technology is one thing, and it is an expensive endeavor.  Having things intentionally built to break down is another.  I realize I can’t do anything about this.
However, I do have options as to how to dispose of things that no longer work. I could toss, sell, or recycle. I can recycle the computer and the printer, but what to do with the steam cleaner and the garbage disposal? Once upon a time some things could be repaired, but today there are few places to have things repaired.  For me it’s difficult to toss into the garbage something that looks as good as the day I bought it, the only problem is that it simply doesn’t work.  It’s easy to see how some people become hoarders.  Today it becomes a battle of keeping up with a changing society where new gadgets become old within a short period of time.  Things that use to last break down much sooner. Granted, sometimes those new gadgets make life a bit easier.  However, the problem still remains, what to do with something that is no longer useful? Another option is to give the items to charity, like Goodwill, Veteran’s groups or thrift shops with the hope that they can repair them and resell.  It’s good to know I have options. Contributing to a landfill will be my last choice.

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