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Our Changing Climate


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Economics

Resource Type

  • Videos, 10 minutes, 32 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Planned Obsolescence Sucks. Here's Why It Still Exists.

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  • This video describes the method of marketing and production design that many companies use to drive sales by purposely making items that are meant to break or go "out of style" frequently Some companies also make it very difficult to fix their products as well. 
  • Examples of planned obsolescence in the video are light bulbs, smartphones, other electronic devices, clothing, and vehicles. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video connects planned obsolescence with increasing consumerism and environmental degradation.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There are commercials before and during the video.
  • The last minute of the video is an ad.


  • Economics and social studies classes could discuss the social and economic impacts of planned obsolescence, particularly on low-income communities.
  • Science classes could connect this video to lessons about the increasing amount of wild spaces that are being mined, logged, fragmented, or polluted that result in a loss of ecosystem services, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity.
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive data resource about the drivers of climate change, this table of solutions to climate change, and this video about the impacts of environmental degradation on biodiversity.
Scientist Notes
This 11-minute video presents the concepts of planned and perceived obsolescence primarily through the example of Apple iPhones. This resource touches on climate change and sustainability briefly but focuses primarily on business practices, economic systems, and social, industrial, and political systems. Citations are provided in small text on the bottom right corner of the screen, which need to be looked up from a list of resources linked in the video description. Although this takes additional effort to follow citations, this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 8.ESS3.4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
  • Social Sciences
    • Economics (K-8)
      • 6.8 Evaluate alternative approaches or solutions to economic issues in terms of benefits and costs for historically marginalized groups and individuals in early major western and non-western civilizations.
      • 7.8 Examine how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
    • Economics: Global Economy (9-12)
      • HS.24 Explain how current globalization trends and policies affect economic growth, labor markets, labor conditions, human rights, the environment, and resource and income distribution in different nations.
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