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The Light Bulb Conspiracy

by Cosima Dannoritzer

The Light Bulb Conspiracy film poster
Runtime: 75′

Ciné-ONU screened “The Lightbulb Conspiracy” to highlight the Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

Once upon a time….. products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: ‘A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence.

During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: ‘Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary…’. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) – until consumers started rebelling…

The film was followed by a Q&A, with:

  • Mr. Joan Úbeda (Executive producer of the film)
  • Mr. Florian Iwinjak (Programme and liaison officer for UNIDO, Brussels)
  • Mr. Chris Vanden Bilcke (Head of UNEP’s Liaison Office to the EU)

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