This summer, new legislation is due to come into force about our “Right To Repair”.
Companies will have to make spare parts readily available to consumers, so that they can either fix things themselves or at least get hold of the parts so someone else can. And the hope is machines will be more “fixable”, too.
I think it’s great. The picture at the top of this blog was the last one I took on my phone before I dropped it on to the road, seconds later. It cost me a fortune to replace the screen. And the worst thing? It was the second time I’ve had to do it!
So much of our gadgetry nowadays is compact – all squished together with glue and impossible to take apart. It’s really hard to get anything fixed. And often the repair costs close enough to the original item’s value, so that you’re tempted to buy a new one.
I remember sitting behind the box office in my part-time job at the local cinema, in between screenings, and fixing a mate’s phone. Barely 6 or 7 years ago, you could prise things open with a thumbnail and swap out a screen in minutes.
My wife’s nan used to have the knack with vacuum cleaners. Like they do when producing the Haynes Manuals, she would disassemble hers when she bought it and figure out how to put it back together. She had the brain and the temperament for it, and would doubtless have made a fabulous engineer. Her vacuums certainly had a full service history!
Small size, big footprint
The phones and tablets we use these days contain a lot of rare minerals from the planet. So it’s good to see an initiative encouraging us to fix things, rather than leap on to a new one. Annual product launches aren’t particularly helpful – there are those of us who can’t resist or could really benefit from new features on new phones.
There must be lots of us who have to upgrade because some part of our phone or tablet no longer cuts the mustard. The battery doesn’t hold charge, the screen’s a bit off or it doesn’t recharge – or it runs out of memory and there’s no way to add more.
Then, of course, there’s the idea of planned obsolescence – that things are built to only last a few years.
Don’t ditch, donate!
Sometimes we do just need to upgrade, but there are better things to do than just store your old device. Which is what I do. I have phones going back about 10 years in the cupboard. But organisations like the Restart project are there to help you donate old devices for reuse.
Whether it’s a phone or tablet, or a microwave, oven or TV, there’s probably someone out there that can use it. Or at least make the most out of the metals inside. If you’ve got something on the way out, or you’re looking to upgrade, have a look at the Recycle Now website for tips.
I know my first step for helping reduce waste – stop dropping my phone . . .
For more from Alex’s Features Ed’s blog, click here.