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The Waste Makers

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  107 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
An exposé of "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals," The Waste Makers is Vance Packard's pioneering 1960 work on how the rapid growth of disposable consumer goods was degrading the environmental, financial, and spiritual character of American society.

The Waste Makers was the first book to probe the increa
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Ig Publishing (first published 1960)
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The Ur-text of my "materialism schism" shelf, Packard's cold-eyed, pitch-dark and pointed critique of American economic materialism of the 1950s may date in certain particulars but still resonates with a message and insights that continue to plague and disturb us.

Vance Packard was a prolific author of social criticism in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Not social criticism in the deep philosophical sense, perhaps, but more in the spirit of the muckrakers of the early 20th century. He wrote many bestse
Sarah Sammis
Dec 14, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2004
It's an interesting look at the 1950's (and early 1960's) consumer culture. As with most theses the book starts with a nostalgic assumption that things were better twenty or so years in the past but I bet that in the 1920s or 1930s, there's probably an equivalent book lamenting the excesses of that era and lauding the frugality of the turn of the century. That being said, the book does have some fascinating and chilling examples of how marketing works to build an artificial demand for a product. ...more
Jonathan-David Jackson
We generate a ton of waste. As The Waste Makers explains, most of it is not even necessary waste to maintain our lifestyle. Most of the waste is generated due to companies' needs to generate more profit than the previous quarter, and the desire for the economy to constantly be growing. Most of that growth is generated in this way: Manufacturers create a product because they want more money. Advertisers create a demand for a product. Consumers throw out their perfectly good old product and buy th ...more
Jul 19, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Devoted followers of the environmental movement.
Recommended to Nicole by: My Poppa
An education in the development of our wasteful society - born of industrialization and highly attributed, in this book, to the automotive and appliance industry in the late '50's. Packard drills the reader on the many "impending dooms" that will be caused by the American's developing penchant for excess. The author knew, long before many, that this constant need for bigger better faster and more would cause environmental and social issues beyond what could be imagined by the general populous. A ...more
Alan Hughes
Aug 07, 2012 Alan Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It is surprising how little that this book has dated in the twop generations since it was released. The dangers of planned obsolescence remain as important as when he coined the term. Wwe are now all too painfully aware of the risks of our excessive consumption on the finite resources of our planet and the consequences of the increased waste.

Many of the trends he predicted have proven to be correct and unfortunately the depressing effects on personality and culture seem to be taking place.

Alex Lee
Jan 22, 2016 Alex Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, design, 2016
Very percipient book. You'd wonder why no one takes such an examination to heart. But what's left out, in a minor but important way -- is that to see the waste we produce we must also take a critical distance to our status seeking. Those of us who are enveloped by the commodity fetishism of new products are those of us least likely to see waste production everywhere, as the focus is on the increased vitalization of the self through commodity use and purchase.

Nonetheless, Packard's thoughts in th
Gilda Mansour
Mar 03, 2011 Gilda Mansour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. All of the things I thought about marketing and production of goods is true! I always believed that things were designed to break so that consumers would be forced to consume more and I was right! This book is really interesting and a bit maddening!
Chris Chaplin
Why is a perfectly good smart phone so passé after only 2 years? Why do we feel compelled to buy the latest fashions, whether in clothing or in kitchen appliances? Why does everything break down the moment it's out of warranty?

Over a half century ago, Vance Packard explained why, introducing to the public the concept of "planned obsolescence" and other mechanisms that ensure the wheels of industry keep churning out products we are conned into demanding.

As our driverless capitalist train rushes
Aug 27, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it

This is the third volume in Vance Packard's series of books about American life and sociology. In it he makes the case for calling America a society of waste makers by documenting the wanton discarding of automobiles, appliances, and gadgets due to the desire for the newest and the latest. That desire was created by advertizing.

During the 1950s, manufacturers began building obsolescence into their products both by lowering quality so that stuff wore out faster and by focusing on yearly style cha
James Otis
Sep 24, 2011 James Otis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book written in 1960 shows how companies, using various techniques including "planned obsolescence" have progressively gotten us to spend more and more money on products that were being made cheaper and cheaper, and how they justify it.

Much of what Vance Packard wrote then still applies today, and although his intention was to make people more aware of what was happening, I am afraid the fact that we continue to go into debt unnecessarily has escalated way beyond what even the author could
I read this book in school for a book report in my Environmental Engineering class. I remember thinking it was both pretty interesting and kind of boring.
Feb 19, 2008 CKS rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Packard lays out the inherent failures of planned obsolescence.
Ryan McArthur
Jun 08, 2012 Ryan McArthur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Super interesting!
Apr 30, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shiraz
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