Skip to main content

We are living in the "waste age"

"It is now 100 times more lucrative to mine gold from e-dumps than from the ground. Yet 70 years ago, we barely threw anything away at all." [1]

Perhaps there is hope when mainstream media is able to report reality.

This Guardian article is spurred by an exhibition called The Waste Age [2] at The Design Museum.

It highlights the fact that planned obsolescence has been a direct result of linear economics, ignoring "external costs".

Some quotes I picked out:

"General Electric, Philips and others formed the Phoebus cartel in 1924 to standardise the life expectancy of lightbulbs at 1,000 hours – down from the previous 2,500 hours. And so the culture of planned obsolescence was born."

"...last year Apple agreed to pay up to $500m, after it was accused of deliberately slowing down older phone models to encourage consumers to buy..."

"About 7% of the world’s gold supplies are trapped inside existing electronic devices..."

"...the most ubiquitous hallmark of the Anthropocene is not a gamechanging material, nor the mastery of technology. It’s trash."

“In many ways ‘waste’ is a category error...It’s often perfectly good material that’s simply undervalued.”

 


[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/nov/01/waste-age-exhibition-design-museum
[2]: https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/waste-age-what-can-design-do

About the author

Barry O'Kane

Barry is the founder of HappyPorch. With 20 years in the web development industry as a programmer and agency owner, he has a preternatural ability to decipher the systems and processes code that holds many teams back from achieving their goals. Partners say Barry gets to the root of issues quickly and makes it downright easy to deliver good work.    

While he's unbelievably grounded, it's not uncommon to find him sailing through the trees as he paraglides his way round the world.