This book is such a good read and while it doesn’t focus solely on electronic waste – it is eye opening to understand how planned obsolescence started and how this business model still effects us today.
In “Made to Break”, Giles Slade examines the history of how obsolescence came to existence. Before the Industrial Revolution gave rise to manufacturing, society was not used to making more than it needed. With these machines that overproduced, companies needed a way to figure out how to stand out amongst the millions more options amongst consumers. That’s where packaging design, branding and logos came in. By placing a trademark symbol, consumers would think that products were of a certain quality.
The culture of disposable products came with the rise of machines. What used to be reused many times, was now made and promoted to be disposable. For example, handkerchief became disposable tissues, pocket watches became so easy to make they were $1 at some point, razors for shaving used to last a long time but were then converted to disposable ones. Fun fact – condoms used to be made of sheep intestines and would be reused! Then came the invention of rubber and rubber condoms! Who would’ve thought?!
The point is, companies advertised products in a way that society came to value and appreciate a product to be convenient and disposable. This is all a response to their worry of not being able to sell all that they were able to make.
More notes: here