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Your Board

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Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

Rejecting Planned Obsolescence

Board Beet
By Your Board on June 24, 2013

My daughter’s birthday is over and packaging from well intentioned gifts has left the house. Well, all accept one box. My daughter received a typically toddler toy with noises and flashing colors, nothing special really. However, it truly was a special gift! This toy came inside packaging that was designed to be used again. The thick box has an attractive plaid pattern on the outside and looks like something purchased at a fancy crafts store.


When we purchase products we buy more than their intended use, we bring home packaging and the responsibility to dispose of it. To varying degrees most of us feel we do our part to reduce our overall garbage footprint. Recycling, using purchasing dollars to support ethical institutions (go Outpost!), and buying in bulk can accomplish this.


Another great way to reduce garbage is to stay away from products with “planned obsolescence.” To those unfamiliar, planned obsolescence describes a product’s intentional short lifespan. Examples include smart phones and anything disposable like, diapers, bottled water, and plastic utensils. But is this enough? Is there something else we can do?


What made that plaid box so great is that it took the concept of planned obsolescence and flipped it into something full of use. By purchasing products like this we save money and create less garbage. The hitch is that very few things are designed to have multiple uses. So where does that leave us?


The answer comes with creativity. Let’s say we want a new set of household drinking glasses. Instead of buying a set of cups from a store, what if we bought six 16-ounce jars of salsa and used them for our new drinking glasses once all that salsa was enjoyed? One product has now become two!


Shopping is a whole new experience when we actively look at how many uses a product could have. Maybe those clear disposable food containers will make great storage bins for buttons or screws. Instead of buying grapes with perforations in the bag, we could purchase the other grape variety that has packaging with no holes and use that for next week’s bag lunch. The possibilities are endless and with creativity we will find all sorts of uses for things that were previously thrown away.


I encourage you to respond to this blog with your ideas and success stories. What ways have you reused products in a creative way?


- Doug Spencer, Board Member


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