Product Life

Bookcase made from old skateboards from Boredpanda.

When trends die, 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 TracFones 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. Aka your dad’s geeky glasses.
The desirability life of these Dad glasses is over. Image from Pinterest.

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!


  1. polymath0

    Ooh, I like the list of reasons for throwing something out. We always think about how, but in our throw-away culture we don’t always think about why. Sometimes, I imagine myself to be extremely poor and wonder what it would be like. I can see that an old cup could have many purposes…including a simple cup.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cedar Coast

        At several optical places in my city you can drop off old glasses. They donate them to charities which replace the lenses with proper prescriptions for those in need overseas! Great post!

        Liked by 1 person

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