The Light Bulb Conspiracy is a documentary by Cosima Dannoritzer about the lightbulb industry and how firms in the industry have colluded to create planned obsolescence in their products. The success of the companies involved has led to planned obsolescence becoming a strategy many firms, industries and economies today. The idea made it into the mainstream during the Great Depression of the 1930s, as it helped countries pull themselves out of their economic funks. It is shocking documentary that sheds light how industries work today and why we have some issues we have today.
As you watch the Lightbulb Conspiracy think about the following questions and write down responses afterward:
1) What is the purpose of planned obsolescence? Would governments have any reason to support such an idea?
2) How are consumers impacted by planned obsolescence?
3) Does such an idea allow for sustainable development? Explain.
4) They mention that the lightbulb firms created a “cartel”. What does this mean? Should such an organization be allowed? Explain.
5) How might Phonebloks.com help solve some of the concerns with planned obsolescence? (See the second video embedded below.)
6) How does NIST’s Clean Up the Reef Day demonstrate the ills of planned obsolescence? What actions could we take right now to deal with the consequences of such consumption?
Another solution economists have put forth is called the circular economy. Check out the video below to see what it is all about and how it will deal with planned obsolescence.
You can watch the documentary below:
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