Product Life

When trendy products lose their appeal, where do they go? You may be surprised to find that junk can go in more places than just the trash. In fact, there are five possibilities:

  1. Landfill
  2. Combustion – incineration is a popular method used in regions such as Japan but not the U.S.
  3. Recycle – recycling companies melt down certain materials so they can become new products
  4. Reuse – for example, rinsing out your starbucks cup and using it again instead of throwing it out
  5. Re-purpose – for instance, turning a broken sled into a new shelf

Evidently the last three are the options with less environmental impact. However, there’s more to product life cycle than where the product goes in the end. Specifically, you can investigate how long the product lasts, how much energy goes into melting it down, even the amount of water and carbon consumed in making the product. Today I will get into why a product gets thrown out. Time to learn some new sustainability terms!

  • Physical life: it’s plain old broken.
  • Functional life: the product isn’t needed anymore, like a car seat past a certain age.
  • Technical life: technology has made the product obsolete. ex: who needs a kerosene lamp when you have electricity!
  • Economical life: new products cost less, like phones that charge per minute when you could pay a lower price for unlimited text and call.
  • Legal life: new rules made the product illegal, like the hover-boards that are now banned in airports.
  • Desirability life: it’s just not cool anymore, like your dad’s geeky glasses.
Photo by Alex Andrews on

Sources: Facts were from my Sustainability course at UB. Additionally, Boredpanda has more re-purposing projects on their website. Some of the projects are a little difficult though, like the used grand piano shelf. Some things I can’t find just laying around my apartment!

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