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There is a quite widespread perception that things do not last as long as they used to. How does this impact what we say and, more importantly, what we do? Researcher Alex Gnanapragasam focuses on sustainable consumption and product lifetimes in his work with the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (based at Nottingham Trent University).
We talked about how people have different expectations for different categories of consumer goods. And that while we say we want long-lasting products, our buying patterns for some types of products, like electronic gadgets, show the opposite. But then other products are a genuine source of frustration – household appliances are great example.
We asked if consumers consider embodied carbon and virtual water – the invisible impacts of manufacture – which increase the urgency of extending product lifetimes.
And to close we discussed “lifespan labelling” and cost-per-year estimations – whether they could help consumers make greener, more satisfying decisions.
Links we mentioned
- Brook Lyndhurst Public understanding of product lifetimes and durability
- Daily Mail Here’s proof today’s gadgets really are DESIGNED to go wrong
- Professor Tim Cooper’s Longer lasting products – and free sample
- Lifespan labelling, European Economic and Social Committee
[Gnanapragasam’s research into consumer expectations of product lifetimes is undertaken with financial support from the EPSRC, grant reference EP/N022645/1]
[Feature image by Flickr user toby___]