In the last twenty or so years there has been a radical change in the amount of products availible to us. Gone is the time when there was one product to satisy one need , nowadays there are countless contenders in all fields that offer no , if not very little difference. When you walk into a supermarket there are hundreds and thousands of different brands trying to grab your attention but when we think about it what is the real difference. Personally I find it hard to distinguish 7up from Sprite , dolmio from rago sauces , my clothes come out clean weather i use Percil or Fairy. Alot of this brands are similar and the ones we chose are usually simple down to innovative marketing. Every little detail of these products is planned to a specific target , the colours , the logo , shape , size material etc.. Not only are there a multitude of products to choose from there are also thousands of products availible that we don’t really need.

 Markets have become flooded with products that are constantly updated.  A perfect example is that of the apple ipod. Every year apple produce new innovative products that exceed the earlier models. For some reason people find it necessary to then upgrade to these new models at high expense. These products are not produced to last , and to stay up to date but are to eventually faulter , or for the technology to become inferior. This kind of production is called ‘Planned Obsolescence’ , where the product is produced to fail and become outdated so the consumer will purchase the newer superior version.

Today the simple fact is that people , especially those in the developed world have to too much belongings , and when these products brake or become old they are simply disgarded with no thought to the consequences. Statistics show that everyday there is at least one new product on the shelves , where as one is removed every three days. This rapid production cannot continue as there will be an overflow of products. There is some strong evidence of this , as in the developed world we have

  • for each household we have 1000 items
  • 560KG per person of waste
  • 1000kg of products bought annually with only 100kg kept
  • 1 in 10 products were fully functional when thrown out

What I am personally worried about is what happens to all this waste and unfortunately the answer is simple , brought to landfill sites and dumped. This can have large scale negative impacts on the environment as green house gases are released from these areas. Another problem with waste is that some developed countries sell their waste to poor countries such as Nigeria. This waste is then scavenged by the locals looking for any scrap with value. Such wastes as computer parts etc… are dissembled or burned as there may be valuble components inside , such as gold , copper , silver etc… These can then be sold , altough this is an income for some of the worlds poorest people , the effects on health can be disasterous. I think it is damn right immoral for such developed countries to unload thier waste on these poorer economies.

When people think of product waste they tend to forget the steps involved in initial production and sometimes dissembly . The idea of the toothbrush was taking as an example , a tremendous amount of energy was put in to the production of one simple toothbrush. First of all there is the assembly when all the differnt models have to shaped , produced and moulded together. This all has to be done in a factory that uses up alot of oil or electricity. Then when the product is finished it must be pacaged , shipped to the shop , which adds to transport costs and fuel used then finally sold. All this energy used even before the product is brought home and also not including all the accesories such as toothpaste, mouthwash , special holders etc… Altough recycling is very important it is important to remember it does take a substantial amount of energy to break down the recyclable goods to a state that they can be made into something new.


With all these choices and varity the mind can become muddled. Some experts pose the questions are we happier now then people were without these products.  A question which I found interesting that was poised to the class was ‘ do you beleive your father was more or less unhappy at your age’. What I found interesting was I couldn’t answer , of coarse many things are better now then 30-40 years ago , but is that down to our actuall possesions. I don’t know about others but I found this a perticulari interesting question. Of coarse one can arguee that in no way it does as today products are all over priced , not made properly , the media tells us we are unhappy without new up to date products. Then of coarse there is all the consequences of these material goods which I have disscussed before such as

  • non-renwable sources depletion
  • acidification, eutrophication, chemicals with release of toxins

Personnally I believe the currrent market trend of new products is not sustainable and who knows in the future , things may change as people become more aware of these problems to such innitatives as ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’.