There are many opinions as to why the US wastes so many materials and resources, but one of the best break-downs of how our waste stream (and other problems associated with consumption) got to be where it is today is given by Annie Leonard’s 20-minute video, “The Story of Stuff.” According to Leonard, many US companies consciously adopted a strategy, soon after World War II, of designing products so they would be thrown out sooner rather than later. It’s easy to see why this is advantageous to the companies: the faster consumers throw something out, the faster they’ll need to buy a new one to replace it. Products become “waste” through two main strategies. In “planned obsolescence” a product is designed to wear out or break down after a relatively short time. In “perceived obsolescence,” advertising stategists attempt to convince people that what they bough a couple years ago is now unfashionable, outdated, or otherwise in need of replacement. Leonard goes into all this in much more detail in the on-line video, at http://www.storyofstuff.com/
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