The Light Bulb Conspiracy

from Multimedia Library Collection:
Environmental Film Profiles (videos)

Dannoritzer, Cosima. The Light Bulb Conspiracy. Barcelona: Media 3.14; Article Z, 2010. HD, 75 min.

A long time ago, consumer goods were built to last. Then, in the 1920s, a group of businessmen realized that the longer their products lasted, the less money they made. Thus was born planned obsolescence, the deliberate reduction of a product’s life span to increase sales. And ever since, manufacturers have designed their products in order to make them fail. Nowadays—when the latest gadget is outdated after a year and electronics are cheaper to replace than to repair—the waste of resources is the basis for economic growth. But infinite consumption is unsustainable with finite resources. With the economy crumbling and consumers beginning to rebel against it, has planned obsolescence reached the end of its life? Shot over three years in Europe, the US, and Ghana, The Light Bulb Conspiracy investigates the evolution and impact of planned obsolescence through interviews with historians, economists, designers, and manufacturers, along with archival footage and internal company documents. Environmental consequences are seen most dramatically in the massive amounts of electronic waste that end up in uncontrolled dump sites in developing countries such as Ghana. The film concludes with examples of consumers and businesses moving towards more sustainable practices and products. (Source: Media 3.14)

© 2010 Media 3.14. Trailer used with permission.

This film is available at the Rachel Carson Center Library (RCC, 4th floor, Leopoldstrasse 11a, 80802 Munich) for on-site viewing only. For more information, please contact

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