Managing my love of technology, new stuff and the reality of built in obsolescence

I love new things, I really do. There are days where I am ashamed to say that simply buying something new makes me deeply happy. I really am trying to change. My husband and I have implemented a 3 gift rule for the kids’ birthdays around here. I want to shower them with things in addition to love because they want things, but they don’t need more stuff. They get a gift from mom and dad and one gift from each sibling. Three presents. At Christmas, Santa brings them one gift. I am completely aware that outside the immediate land in which we live, that is more than most and we are trying very hard to teach them this worldly view. I can certainly stand to heed my own parenting lessons, so where I start is my camera technology. I make it last. I take care of it as I use it and I try to make it work for me until I can’t fix it any longer. This despite my natural inclination to drool on my keyboard as I read about the new camera bodies released each year. My D3 turns 5 years old next month. Do I want a newer/better/faster/lighter/better ISO handling professional camera body? YES I DO. What I do not want MORE though is for my old technology to end up in a waste dump in Africa killing little kids. I know that sounds dramatic, but it happens. And built in obsolescence is why we end up tossing our stuff before we really should. I think tablets and phones are amazing and they have cut down my paper waste dramatically, but it kills me that dramatic new technology is released mere months after the last. Things around here get recycled as best they can and given to others who can use what we have replaced. Technology is the base tool for both my career and Alec’s, so it is something that will be on heavy rotation in our home. That is unavoidable, but making sure it is disposed of properly, upcycled or passed along to someone else is our focus. We watched this  documentary last week and I had no idea the history of it all nor that Apple had been brought to task about their battery…

Disclose.tvThe Lightbulb Conspiracy – The untold story of Pla

We are mostly a PC/Android house. Gemma and I both have iPods, but I HATE that the iPod I got 4 years ago no longer works as the battery dies in mere moments and the OS  is not compatible with any current apps. The OS is no longer able to be upgraded on that hardware, so the Mac store told me to just get a new one. That iPod is in the pile of technology to pass on to someone else. Gemma saved over a year for her very own iPod, so it better last or she is going to be devastated. I am going to share some of the best Android apps I have found to date in an upcoming post!

It isn’t just technology. I am so frustrated to find holes in my clothes before the season they were bought for is even over! Or hearing of Gemma’s friend’s American Girl doll losing her head a few months after purchase… As the mom of that friend said to me about the head loss incident… Not good enough. I would love to hear your ideas on how to make things we buy and use last longer. Let’s get creative and brainstorm together! I am up for trying anything!

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  • imene - We watched that movie with my husband a while ago I agree with it is shocking how fast our electronics are out of date, I feel the life cycle for the iPod/ipads is even faster. I usually pass down my devices but I still have one or two old laptops that I should recycle. France has a tax on electronics that is supposed to pay for safe disposal. I would favor any solution that means our crap is not dumped in land fields in Africa or China.October 24, 2012 – 12:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Imene Said Kouidri via Facebook - Amen ! You would enjoy watching the Century of the Self. It was eye opening.October 24, 2012 – 12:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel Devine Photography / sesame ellis via Facebook - We started really being aware of it all after watching the Blood, Sweat and Luxuries series…October 24, 2012 – 1:03 pmReplyCancel

  • cintia - I’ve seen this program and it makes me so angry! That’s why i often choose to buy vintage, when things were made to last.
    we are such slaves to technology and the next new thing, we need to make conscious decisions not to consume, because big business really isn’t interested in their products lasting longer.

    I’m so sick of seeing CRT tv’s on the side of the road. They probably worked just fine until they were left out in the rain.October 24, 2012 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Natalie - I can’t wait to watch this in full (have only seen a small part) and already know I’ll be ranty by the end of it. I dislike immensely the push to constantly upgrade technology and the limited life-cycle of items because they’re not made to last.

    My Mac apparently had a life cycle of 18 months but because I have refused to upgrade each time there was a problem and I was told “it’s obsolete and that problem can’t be fixed” – instead spending time researching every issue online and fixing it myself – it is still running at nearly seven years. By the time I upgrade it as I had planned I will have gotten five lives out of it by refusing to believe the expected life cycle.

    I keep things until they wear out or break down, only putting them in landfill if there’s no way I can repair or repurpose them. I understand it’s in the best interests of companies to have us constantly consuming but that’s not my style and I find the expectation of consumerism awful at times.October 24, 2012 – 1:27 pmReplyCancel

  • nat - It makes me angry and sad at the same time. Things are not made to last, people don’t appreciate quality and prefer quantity. I’d rather go travelling and spend money on having a good time, but that’s my preference. I’m too, however, fed up with clothes (however expensive) falling apart so quickly and shopping is no longer a pleasurable occasion for me as it used to be.October 24, 2012 – 1:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Cassandra - Wow!! I have never seen this before, and the idea of the consumerist society being planned for by these evil near-sighted men is blowing my mind. I’m sure I have a sensible comment to make, but right now my mind is just racing with it all. Thankyou so much for sharing it with us, I will be showing it to my family and spreading the word

    Like you, we are a heavily technology dependent family, however we are still using 5 year old phones and lap-tops, and buy quality over price for all purchases possible. But I’m not careful enough about where our waste may end up, and have had my eyes opened.October 24, 2012 – 2:39 pmReplyCancel

  • SAN - WOOOWW!!! this is amazing! today at collage we talk about this….actually this documentary is produced in Spain , Catalunya, Barcelona to be more specific….and the director of the tv channel came to talk to us…..when i read your post i was like…wow……i love the socialnetwork stunningOctober 26, 2012 – 8:49 amReplyCancel

  • Robin T - Read 7 by Jen Hatmaker – I’m on chapter six and its making me a little sick to my stomach and I want to forget it all but I know I can’t 🙁October 31, 2012 – 6:15 amReplyCancel

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