This article was originally published by Meadow Clark at The Organic Prepper
When planned obsolescence goes too far, the people of the Right to Repair want the right to…repair things. They aren’t fighting back with pitchforks and torches, but rather, screwdrivers and torch lights.
As a prepper, having supplies that last and are able to be repaired can only be a good thing. And part of the reasons it’s so difficult to reduce our consumerism is that everything just keeps breaking on us.
So, what do climate change regulations, so-called efficiency products, and planned obsolescence all have in common?
All three are crashing into each other and making everyone miserable and poorer.
What is planned obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence means the deliberate altering of a product to break down at a certain point (often right after the warranty is up) forcing the consumer to buy another. Another aspect of planned obsolescence is designing the product to prevent repair either by gluing parts together or using obscure parts and not allowing the sale of spare parts. In many cases, the products are too cheaply made to warrant money spent on repairs, so millions of products end up in the dump, making people wonder why they buy things in the first place.
Car manufacturers are notorious for planned obsolescence now. Older cars are now prized for their repairability and ease of getting spare parts. One of the most insidious examples of planned obsolescence is when Apple was caught deliberately slowing down older versions of its iPhones. Appliances and electronics are among the most infuriating culprits. “Fast fashion” is the clothing version of planned obsolescence.
Planned obsolescence has coincided with the climate change fever pitch and the fear of CO2 emissions. These two things have coincided with goods that are ostensibly manufactured to be energy “efficient.” As some folks are pointing out, however, it is anything but efficient to create more and more junk, then having it sit in landfills and break down into the environment.
How can you have environmentally friendly products that do nothing more than create waste? A senseless waste of resources. In 2017 alone, 525,000 tons of waste electronic and electrical waste were collected, just in the UK. And this waste only applies to household appliances. This is to say nothing of the labor involved to mine the resources and make these cheap goods.
More than that, people are just plain ticked off to have spent so much time and money on products that are purposely designed to break and engineered in a way that bans people from repairing them. It’s not that people don’t want to repair products. It’s that the product doesn’t allow for it – there are no available spare parts. And most frustrating of all, it can cost more to repair some products than to buy more.
Meet the Right to Repair movement.
The practice of planned obsolescence obviously benefits money hungry companies at the unfair expense of the customer.
People from the UK and the U.S. have spoken up about the inability to repair cheap goods.
The UK community repair movement is a worldwide group of “repair activists” that want others to stand with them to persuade designers, manufacturers, and government to make sure that products at least have the ability to be repaired.
They have released “The Manchester Declaration,” which says:
We are part of a growing movement pushing for our Right to Repair worldwide, alongside independent repair businesses and citizens frustrated with the early obsolescence of most of today’s products.
We ask UK legislators and decision-makers at all levels, as well as product manufacturers and designers, to stand with us for our Right to Repair, by making repair more accessible and affordable, and ensuring that we adopt product standards making products better supported, well documented and easier to repair by design. (source)
If you are interested in joining, find them over at the Restart Project.
What is the government’s role?
BBC reports that stopping the anti-repair practice consists of…
[…] a series of proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend.The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances.
At least 18 US states are considering similar laws in a growing backlash against products which can’t be prised apart because they’re glued together, or which don’t have a supply of spare parts, or repair instructions. (source)
Will all these bureaucracies and directives really bring about products that work? I have suspicions. The urgency behind climate change and Agenda 21/Agenda 2030 wants to see a world with less consumption, fewer resources, and fewer goods. Every day the media pushes a false narrative of scarcity.
It is more likely there will be crimps on many resources.
How will this plan move forward?
If you’re wondering how this will proceed, here’s a summary.
European environment ministers have a series of proposals forcing manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend. The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances.
Plans for the EU Ecodesign Directive are complex and controversial. Manufacturers say the proposed rules on repairability are too strict and will stifle innovation.
Consumer campaigners complain the EU Commission has allowed firms to keep control of the repair process by insisting some products are mended by professionals under the control of manufacturers.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said: “This restricts the access of independent repairers to spare parts and information – and that limits the scope and affordability of repair services.” The EEB also wants other products like smart phones and printers included in the legislation. (source)
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said that efficiency was “key to improving our productivity and making best use of precious resources”.
“That is why we are supporting measures in the new Ecodesign Directive product regulations to encourage repair and re-use of a range of products,” she told BBC News.
No, the Right to Repair movement will not stop planned obsolescence.
Like I said before, efficiency means using less energy and other resources, putting a strain on the consumer.
In the UK, the amount of power allowed for vacuum cleaner suction continues to be slashed. When you think of an “efficiency” toilet, remember it is anything but. When you have to flush two or three times, does that really help the environment?
The government is supporting all things that crimp energy usage and pretending that they’re doing you a favor. Kind of like those “eco-friendly” shower heads that give you that I-showered-but-it-looks-like-I-didn’t look.
More about being allowed to repair products:
There’s another debate about how readily consumers should be allowed to mend appliances. The Right to Repair movement wants products that can be fully disassembled and repaired with spare parts and advice supplied by the manufacturer.
Some manufacturers fear that bungling DIY repairers will damage the machines they’re trying to fix, and potentially render them dangerous.
One industry group, Digital Europe, said: “We understand the political ambition to integrate strict energy and resource efficiency aspects in Ecodesign, but we are concerned that some requirements are either unrealistic or provide no added value.
“The draft regulations limit market access, deviate from internationally-recognised best practices and compromise intellectual property.” (source)
Of course, the industries are acting ridiculous in suggesting that in order to protect proprietary design, they need to design garbage goods.
Still, the Right to Repair movement is only asking for a little breadcrumb from the table. It will not stop planned obsolescence and neither will the government.
What’s cool about them is that they are organized, have a cohesive voice, and one clear demand. So more power to that!
This is what real eco-design looks like
So, what does real “eco-design” look like?
It means that a product can last forever and become something else instead of toxic waste that simply gets repurposed.
One author leading the way for “cradle to cradle” design is William McDonough who wrote, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things and The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance.
Even products and things that are touted as “eco-friendly” are anything but friendly. For instance, putting people in third-world countries into homes made from plastic garbage should be a disgrace. It doesn’t give people a safe home and it doesn’t solve the problem of plastic waste. Nor does a baby rattle made from recycled plastic which contains endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Rotating non-biodegradable waste will not get rid of the main problem: that we’ve created toxic products that have no outlet.
McDonough argues that we can change all that if we design a product that will always have a new life (become reborn) and never have a reason to be eradicated. Check out his TED talk on YouTube.
I don’t agree with everything he says, but at least he’s not anti-commerce, anti-earth, and he doesn’t buy the “everyone must sacrifice” lines blaring out from behind the Agenda 21 curtain.
What do you think of this news?
Are you going to join the Right to Repair efforts? How do you personally fight planned obsolescence? Let us know in the comments below!
Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.
Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper and DaisyLuther.com She is the author of 4 books and the co-founder of Preppers University, where she teaches intensive preparedness courses in a live online classroom setting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter,.
Been going on for some time in Europe:
It is time we start building our OWN stuff. Stuff that is repairable. I say we take parts off of their junk and make something better. Have you ever seen what they do in Cuba? Yes it is possible.
The right to repair is a good concept, but it immediately falls flat on its face when the first thing to do is get government involved.
First rule of right to repair: Stop buying cheap Chinese crap.
I have drills and saws from the 1950s that are in better condition than one month old Chinese drills and saws.
JS, remember those old hand drills with the hand crank? I picked up a few of those at a yard sale 3 years ago and they work like a charm. I just keep them lubricated with some WD-40 and they work as good as ever.
Ya DR I have some of those too (for a dollar each). Good tools are cheap at yard sales. Problem is people now days are too stupid to fix ANYTHING! They can’t even replace a burner on a stove. Change a tire? Replace an alternator? Simple shit is waaayyyy beyond the average idiot… I mean you just look at how something is installed and a 5th grader should be able to figure it out.
But then the 5th grader of our day was smarter than the college graduate of today….
Sadly this is very true. Not getting any better. Almost all middle schools have eliminated shop class. Children don’t learn anything from dad because he doesn’t know anything. You need some basic foundation skills even to benefit from diy YouTube videos.
I taught sons and daughters because so many young couples’ marriages end in divorce. I taught neighborhood kids too.
I also suggested single ladies look in places like Home Depot to meet guys who are “handymen” and generally are Christians and stand up guys.
Anyone can do appliance repair with a little common sense. I would suggest buying wire numbers as some people forget when taking thewires off switches and controller circuit boards and electronic timers. Plus some are color-blind and can’t distinquish colors so could easily mix up wiring.
When doing electrical work, it is handy to have electrical tape and wire nuts at all times as you might have to work on it “hot”. It is safer to shut off the breaker at the panel that is associated with the device.
Never forget that capacitors hold a charge though. You jeff to look that up. Frequently there are RC cidcuits (resistor capacitor) used with motors or solenoids. Large caps are used with air conditioners, televisions, etc.
If someone can’t change the electrical element on a stovetop, which is easier that changing a fuse or a lightbulb as all you do is lift it out of the plug and put the new one in, then that person is hopeless. Tying one’s shoelaces is more complex.
When my grandad was angry, his worst insult was, “that guy is worthless” ie he couldn’t do anything and so had no value.
That’s like meeting a guy who can’t split wood…the dolt who breaks axe handles because he’s so inept…the kind of guy who doesn’t even know how to use a hammer.
You know, you expect to say, “righty tighty, lefty loosey…” to a seven year old who is helping you disassemble and reassemble something,but there are teens who honestly never used tools. And when you are teaching them something they should have learned a decade or more prior…I feel so embarrased for them.
Some have never planted a transplant in a garden. How weird.
They don’t know how to use hedge clippers.
You sort of wonder…what do they know how to do? Do they ever do any chores?
Dep Ren. I’ve been looking for those kind of drills and can’t find them anywhere. Yard sales, flea markets, nowhere.
With electronics, the most likely issue is the dc power adapter plug-in as this notoriously will fail in places like the motherboard of computers/laptops. That is planned obsolescence.
The same is true with tablets as the cord will fray at the plug in or cause similar issues to the connector.
These batteries are not intended to be constantly charged and not fully discharged so they get a memory and the length of time they can operate on battery power is very short.
Even if you keep a computer operating for a decade, you are going to have hard drive issues. We don’t know about the lifetime of memorage storage on things like a memory stick or tablet since they are so relatively knew.
Historically people kept an inventory of parts for cars or for appliances but that ties up a lot of capital. After Just in Time manufacturing and inventory controls, there are less and less people with warehouses full of parts. You can either buy anticipated extra parts that you presume will go bad, or buy two of everything with the other as back up parts or as a “warm backup”.
Hello, my name is Fritz and I’m a repairaholic.
You know, repairing stuff for people would be a good income cash job for some people. Easy fed notes!
Buy products made in America. Produce your own product and offer it as your gift at Christmas or on other special occasions. Sell your product at your own garage sale (or at a neighbor’s) for a small fee to cover the cost of
The privacy rights and privacy concerns advocate groups failed miserably. Hope this group fares better.
Within electronics there is an old term “military grade” as that meant very heavy duty robust creation of the device so it would hold up for extremely.lengthy amounts of time under adverse conditions like vibration, weather, shock by being dropped, heavier insulation, sturdy plugs and connections, etc.
But if you do that, then less electronics may be sold as they will last longer. However, what seems to be the case is a “keeping up with the Jones” type situation where young people use new electronics as status symbols.
It is ridiculous. Our ancestors did not live that way. They mostly used devices until they broke and could not be repaired. How many people repair tv sets anymore? How many repair computers?
Now as wages get crummier and crummier, then ordinary rural people do without and don’t buy IPhones.
I honestly cannot understand buying new computers all the time for the average person. I guess that is about pretty graphics and playing games???
My last computer lasted a decade but I repaired it several times…not expensively so.
Many “non repairable” things can be repaired if you have the time and a little ingenuity. Most of the time, it isn’t worth the effort unless you just like doing it for the fun of it (the way I do).
Manufacturers often make things near impossible to repair outside of factory trained and specially equipped facilities because of the tampering and potential acquired liability situation they could face if they made them easily consumer accessible for repair. There are proprietary reasons to do this as well.
Extending various protections and liability limitations to the manufacturers for repaired or altered products would be necessary if they were to be expected to change the way things are things made to make them easily consumer accessible for repairs.
Or, things that are repairable have an extended warranty for a price. I’ve never gotten the extended warranty. Seemed like too much money for the possible “protection” it covered.
I fix everything that I can.
I have the skills, tools and facilities.
The biggest problem is getting parts, and
The author hints at this by mentioning
proprietary parts. I had to toss a
physically perfect Bosch SS dishwasher,
whose controller failed,because Bosch
pulled the controller module off
all the parts shelves, world wide.
I identified the Swiss company that
manufactured the controller
and they refused to respond to my request for
design information. The parts on the controller
were readily available. I have the ability to
program the controller “Brain”. I could build
a controller if I had design information.
In my opinion, there was a design problem
causing safety issues and that is
how they elected to solve it. Make it un-reparable.
I have a microwave that has a very obsolete safety
switch in it. The part simply cannot be obtained
as the manufacturer was Chinese and very out of business
nor is a suitable replacement available.
I can reverse engineer/modify the appliances
to get more use from them, but I don’t always
have time to reverse engineer and fabricate replacement
parts, so I buy more crap.
Car parts can be the same way. It took me 5 hours on the computer to find a rear axle shaft for my Mazda truck.
The axle is listed as unavailable, everywhere, even the
dealer. Nobody knew I could use a Ford Ranger shaft,
everyone wanted to sell me the entire rear end!
Luckily I found the information to confirm I
could use a $23 part.
I fixed my truck for $100 instead of over $2400.
I don’t know how you can fix those problems
proprietary parts and refusal to provide information
on obsolete products.
Good for you relik! With the combination of overpopulation and planned obsolescence resources are being just thrown in the trash so we can consume even more! This shit will end very BADLY! But don’t say I didn’t tell everyone so. A monkey can do the math. Soooo glad we don’t have kids to foist this shit on, When were gone I’m not coming back to this retard ranch.
Rellik, next time you need a used auto part, go to car-part.com. Their system automatically does the interchange when you punch in what you want, so all the available vehicles that use the exact same component show up in the search, and which wreckers have them. It’s a handy resource when it comes to buying parts vehicles, too, or to check if the stuff on a particular car that someone’s parting out will fit on yours. All the bigger wreckers in NA are on that database, I use it all the time! Like, the nearest power steering rack I can find for my current rig is $700 used and two provinces away last time I checked, so instead I bought a rebuild kit for $50 😉
Meadow Clark (didn’t he play for the Harlem Globetrotters?) is right about the cheap plastic unrepairable junk. But cheap is what most Americans demand. This is why they fight over cheap junk teevees and other stuff every Black Friday at Brawlmart.
If there was really a profitable market for well-made repairable stuff…and not just a few preppers and handymen…they would be selling it. It would be more expensive but if there was money to be made they would sell it.
I reckon you mean Meadow Lemon.
Brawlmart LMAO! Imma use that one… Thanks!
Many Americans want cheap because they want it now. They want the good life and cannot bear to wait.
In times past, people would save up for their TV or sound system because only well off people could buy outright or use time payments; credit cards such as Diners Club were the venue of the wealthy.
Then there is the problem that wages really haven’t kept up with the cost of living. That’s an entire article all on its own.
Brawlmart…hehehe. Like Genius, that may fall into my vocabulary, too. 😀
Right to repair, huh? Stop talking about my car.
These days, it seems a industrious man could use a garage & polebarn just to house his “stuff” needed to repair things.
i worked at a ford garage some years back. Vehicles were complicated even back then. Engines/transmissions seem “shoehorned” in under the hood.
Recall my father in law telling of a vehicle that had enough room to stand inside the engine compartment with the hood up.that was waaay back. ?
The problem is that most everything now is tin foil and plastic. The pursuit of Efficiency trumps longevity and nothing is made to last more than 10 years. Warranties on parts are 90 days and not the year they used to be.
If your home was made in the early 90’s you are relatively lucky. The new stuff is junk. The only thing to do I think is to buy the older technologies while you can.
As I read this post I look around and count the things I ‘ve repaired and still own. They include: microwave oven, computers (laptop and desktop), drills, impact drivers, air conditioners, automobiles, washer and dryer, cell phones, televisions, tablets, even the mouse I use as I pen this. In fact it’s easier to list those I won’t: a couple of camcorders and landline phones. It seems to me much of the problem is people who throw away otherwise repairable items.
Millennial (sobbing) “But I don’t know how!”
a few years ago, there was a guy spreading the story that all these appliances made in china in the last few years were JUNK. and i sure have found it to be true. my 73 inch bigscreen has burned out 3 bulbs, and a control unit that caused black spots all over the screen. also a washer that had a bad 250$ control unit bad(plus labor, if so inclined). i hear from people all the time “i just bought that a couple years ago”….do a lil research, don’t buy nuthin’ “made in china”….it’s a warning-label, afterall.