THE IT chap looked at me with absolute scorn as I moaned to him about the built in obsolescence of modern technology.

"You work for a newspaper," he said, "It's designed to go in the bin at the end of the day." Yeah, alright pal. Touché.

But I was right to complain. In Britain the average person discards more electrical items each year than anywhere else in the world bar Norway, which is a surprising fact given Norway's reputation as a paragon of virtue.

Don't gloat, though, being second worst is still bad. The government, it has been announced, is looking to do something about this planned obsolescence and our throwaway ways. Ministers are considering plans to mandate that washing machines, fridges and televisions must carry labels informing shoppers of their expected lifespan.

Spare parts would be available for at least seven years (which doesn't seem nearly long enough but at least is a step in the right direction) and consumers would be urged to repair rather than replace.

Apparently extending the lifespan of smartphones, laptops, washing machines and vacuum cleaners across Europe by one year would save carbon emissions equivalent to taking two million cars off the road each year.

I'm forever banging on about this but, when it comes to the environment, looking backwards seems as much of value as innovating forwards. Using paper bags instead of plastic; growing your own fruit and veg in the back garden; buying milk in glass bottles; taking the bike rather than the car; and etc., rejecting modern conveniences for their decades old originals.

New products, say plans being drawn up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, would need to have parts that can be replaced by commonly available tools.

We're looking at you, smartphones, where cases are designed with screws that do not fit standard screwdrivers.

“Repairing and recycling must become commonplace for electronics," said Philip Dunne, the chairman of the committee, in the first statement made by a member of this Conservative government with which I can agree.

We hear a lot about disposable fashion. There's legions of websites offering advice on how to darn, embroider, hem and alter outfits but not nearly as much information on how to extend the shelf life of a kettle, say, or keep your washing machine running for longer.

Ma Stewart brought her fridge back from Australia in 1989. I wouldn't hazard to guess how long she'd owned it in Sydney before it made its transatlantic journey north but I can tell you she finally replaced it in 2019. Which is not bad going at all.

We're not encouraged to hang on to our electrical goods. Of course not: it serves corporations to have obedient, thirsty consumers who'll bin what they've only just bought if they can replace it with a shinier new model.

It's astonishing that people fall for it, that they're willing to shell out the cash on a slightly improved version of something they already own.

Phones really are the pinnacle of this. They have an average lifespan of three years – think of all those old bricks languishing in drawers, and tablets as useful as tea trays. You can pay upwards of £1000 for a device and it's still going to be obsolete in two to three years. Why put up with it?

Last year Apple agreed to pay out around $500 million in settlements after allegations that older iPhones slowed down once software updates were carried out. Apple, of course, denied any wrongdoing and said the software updates kept older devices running. France, too, charged the company with the same issue and it was fined the equivalent of £21m.

There used to be an ironmongers near the West End Park in Coatbridge where my gran would take items for repair. I vividly remember the exquisite mortification of early adolescence as I accompanied her on the bus carrying a standard lamp. Thankfully the return journey was taken by taxi.

In bad news for easily embarrassed teens everywhere, repair cafes are becoming more popular with two in the south side of Glasgow doing a good trade.

The new proposals are a decent step in cutting consumerism to more planet-friendly levels. This is an issue caused by giant corporations where government intervention is necessary. The problem needs consumers to get on board also. Use repair cafes, hanging on to belongings for longer. Don't buy cheap, if you can avoid it.

It's back to the future again, make do and mend.