Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Green Term of the Week - Perceived Obsolescence

I think the first time I fell victim to today's term, perceived obsolescence, was the first day of seventh grade. I was sitting in homeroom on my first day of junior high and this boy that I had never met before turned around from in front of me and said, "Do you still like disco?" The word still should have been my first clue, but I didn't pick up on it.

"Yes, I like disco." 

"Disco is dead. Nobody who has any taste in music likes it anymore," was his reply. He turned around, and I can't remember if he ever said another single word to me the rest of the school year.

That was it. I was suddenly indoctrinated into the world of perceived obsolescence - the idea that something is no longer useful because it is no longer in fashion; something new has come along and even though the old thing is still completely useful it is "out."

How does this relate to green? Perceived obsolescence is responsible for a good deal of the waste that now fills our landfills and the rampant consumerism that causes us to buy more stuff than we need. That stuff costs us more than just cash. That stuff uses up resources and creates pollution in its manufacturing and shipping.

Whether it's music, fashion, electronics, cars, toys, or whatever else it is that was cool yesterday but not so much today, when the perceived obsolescence of an object gets ahold of a consumer, a lot of waste is generated.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about how to combat perceived obsolescence. Think about it over night.

And come back later today, when I'll post my first contest - the winner will receive a ChicoBag.

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