How to stop your gadgets choking the earth

The COVID-19 Pandemic was a technological breakthrough that made Americans more connected than ever.

How to stop your gadgets choking the earth

The average home has 25 connected devices today, more than twice the amount of what it had in 2019.

The result is a gushing river electronic waste. Gadgets are both the fastest growing and most polluting category of trash. Old gadgets are more likely to catch fire or leach toxic chemicals. The recycling rates of electronics are low: Less than one fifth of them are recycled each year.

Elizabeth Chamberlain (director of sustainability at iFixit), a community for repair enthusiasts, stated that "globally, we're generating ewaste that weighs up to 100 blue whales a days and that 80% to 81% is not going to recycled."

Some technology companies are taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their products in light of this crisis. Apple, Samsung, and Google have begun to allow customers to fix their products after years of encouraging planned obsolescence. Critics argue that this is not enough and encourage companies to do more. Government regulators should also be on the case.

Earth Day is Friday. Consumers can recognize this and take steps to lessen the impact their tech. They also save money. Here are some tips from environmental advocates to make the most of your device.

Keep your device longer

The first thing to consider when looking at new devices is whether you want one. Experts recommend that you avoid buying a new smartphone or laptop by either repairing or upgrading an older model to get more use.

Chamberlain stated that the manufacturing process is responsible for the vast majority of a device’s carbon footprint.

According to a U.S. study, Americans purchase 161 million smartphones each year. PIRG. It would be as effective as removing 636,000 cars from the road if everyone had a smartphone for an extra year.

People replace their phones to extend the battery life. Although it is more difficult to replace an older phone's battery than it was in the past, it can still be a way to prolong its life and cost less than purchasing a new one.

iFixit, for example, sells a $50 iPhone 12 battery replacement kit. The site rates the repair as moderately difficult. Sometimes, independent repair shops can also replace the battery of your device.

Consider the longevity of your device when buying one.

It is important to research the ease of upgrading or fixing a gadget before you buy it. This could impact how long it lasts. iFixit rates smartphones and laptops based upon how easy they are for repair and offers crowdsourced manuals.

Some of these ratings may change as big tech companies promise to make it easier to repair their products. Apple claims that consumers will soon be able buy parts for common repairs to the iPhone 12 or 13. In March Samsung announced a repair service for certain Galaxy phones. Google did the same this month for its Pixel phone. All three phones will be available for purchase sometime in the coming year.

Devices that use glue to attach components instead of snaps or screws should be avoided. This could indicate that fixing the problem might prove difficult.

Modular equipment is also available for consumers. It's easy to disassemble and customize. The Framework laptop, for example, is a modular computer. Fairphone, on the other hand, aims to become a sustainable smartphone.

Avoid cheap TVs

Flat-screen TVs can be problematic because they are often too large and poorly built.

Amanda LaGrange, CEO at Tech Dump in Minnesota's Twin Cities, said that "we see so many flat-panel televisions it's depressing."

"People often buy them on Black Friday. Some manufacturers are reducing quality. This is how they can make it more affordable.

LaGrange recommends that customers verify the model number of any TV they are interested in to avoid buying the cheapest. Check to see if the TV is available at other times of the year. If it isn't, it will probably be cheaper and you won't be able to afford to repair it.

Refurbished tech available

Tech Discounts is Tech Dump's twin company. It refurbishes and sells used gadget models at a discounted price. This is a common practice at many online and nonprofit organizations.

LaGrange stated that consumers shouldn't be afraid to buy used tech, even if they think it won't work as well. Reputable retailers will test refurbished items and offer warranties and return policies comparable to those for new gadgets.

"People are more likely to buy a refurbished electronic if they have already done it once." She said that it's similar to buying jeans used for the first time. People wonder, "Why am I throwing my money away?"

Avoid the "pile denial"

Don't throw away old electronics. Give them a second chance by giving them to a friend, or donating them at a recycling or refurbishing centre. These centers often offer financial incentives by allowing someone to write off the donation's value.

LaGrange advises that they must act quickly and not let old technology accumulate. The "pile of denialism" is a collection of non-working electronics that has been stored in a garage or basement for many years. They are often too old to be repaired and cannot be recycled once someone gives them away.

She said, "If your iPhone X is still in a drawer, it can be easily refurbished." It's difficult to recondition an iPhone X if you wait six years.

Get involved in the "right to fix" campaign

Despite the growing movement to ensure that consumers can fix their devices, which is extremely popular and has bipartisan support in Congress, no state has yet made it a law.

Nathan Proctor, the head of Right to Repair at the Public Interest Research Group, stated that this must change if we want to reduce e-waste. He said, "In terms winning the argument, winning public support, we're really in a strong position." "In terms actually fixing things, we're just starting."

Nine states are currently considering bills to strengthen consumers' rights to repair. Three bills were also introduced in Congress to ease the repair rights of cars, electronics, and tractors.

Proctor believes that tech companies have changed their anti-repair policies because of the pressure from the Biden administration. To make that change permanent, we need to pass new laws.

These companies' job is to make money. Proctor stated that it is our job as citizens of this country to ensure they make money without causing harm to consumers or the environment.

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