Sometimes people ask “Why repair when you can just get a brand new phone?” Well depending on your situation, you may be far away from being able to upgrade your device on your plan or you may not have the funds to buy a new phone. But there are so many more reasons than this, and they touch on some much broader issues that are worth discussing here. Repair not only saves you money, it saves the environment; we live in a throwaway economy and it’s costing us more than we know. There are some very beneficial environmental, economic and social reasons to repair rather than dispose of our mobile devices.
Repair is sustainable
According to Greenpeace, electronic waste (e-waste) now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide. Our stuff used to be made to last, now it’s made to last only a couple of years which is a two-fold problem: 1) We are manufacturing more products than ever before, this requires resources and mining for the materials in electronics is incredibly destructive. 2) We are putting more and more waste into the landfills; electronics are packed with toxic chemicals—arsenic, lead, and poly-brominated flame retardants. Most of our e-waste ends up in landfills—both at home and in the developing world—where toxic metals leach into the environment.
What about recycling? Well the reality is that only about 25% of devices are recycled while 75% are trashed! Not only that but there is a shortage of recyclers who are able to properly process electronic waste. Consumer electronics are one of the most complicated products we know how to make. The average cell phone is made up of at least 500 components—most of them a complicated cocktail of different materials. Also recycling uses a huge amount of energy, although we are able to recycle the materials this barely makes up for the massive amount of energy and water used plus the emissions produced during the manufacturing process.
So we need to find a way to make our devices last longer, to get the most use out of them before they get discarded or recycled. The best shot we have at reducing the environmental impact of our electronics is to keep them around for as long as possible.
Repair makes dollars & sense
There’s no question that repairing your device saves you money, a screen replacement for your iPhone is dramatically less expensive than a brand new phone! Not only is repair more economical for the individual, the repair industry is good for our economy. Repairing electronics creates 13 times more jobs than recycling them and it’s estimated that 250,000 jobs would be created by repairing 23% of our out-of-use electronics (*Source: http://ifixit.org/revolution). In a down economy, few businesses continue to grow—but repair does. More and more, people are trying to make the most out of the stuff they already own. Thousands of locally owned and operated smartphone repair shops (like us!) have popped up in the last few years.
Repair creates connection
In the developed world we take our connectivity and access to technology for granted. While we’re drowning in waste electronics, more than 3 billion people don’t have access to a cell phone.
Encouraging a global market for used electronics is socially responsible:
- Repaired electronics give people access to low-cost electronics and help them access the awesome benefits of technology.
- Used electronics create repair jobs in developing countries that often have few opportunities for skilled labor.
- Reuse in developing countries is usually more effective than domestic recycling—for example, there’s not much of a market for old cathode ray tube monitors in the US, but they are reused in other countries.
Even in our own back yard, many low income Canadians struggle because they can’t afford a mobile phone or computer. Repairing and reselling used electronics and mobile devices provides a supply of affordable products to those in need.
If you’re interested in learning more about the broader benefits of repair, there are some great articles on ifixit.org. We hope this gets you thinking beyond just your personal needs for repairing your devices and shifts your perspective to some of the global implications of moving away from our throwaway consumer mentality to a mindset of sustainability.
Think your device is beyond repair? You never know, we’ve worked miracles with extreme repairs in the past and may be able to help you out. Contact us directly to find out if we can fix it before you decide to trash it!
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