The secret lives of electronics…

10 Nov

A dear friend happened to be thinking along the same lines as us this past week… I thought I’d copy her post here so we can all gain from her personal reflections.
Here are some learnings from Liz:

I keep thinking about waste.

On Sunday I decided to organize our bedroom closet.  It is quite large and I didn’t feel like we were optimizing space as best we could.  Also, I’m starting to think we do more laundry than necessary because our clothes get hidden in piles in the closet and we forget about them.

After I was done folding and sorting, there stood two full garbage bags.  What?! We just moved, how do we have stuff to get rid of? I love the show Hoarders, so I purge regularly. Where does all this stuff come from?

In our culture, just as quickly as we discard things – we replace them.  Guilty as charged.  As mentioned in “The Story of Stuff,” consumer products aren’t built to last.  It’s called planned obsolescence.

Today I’ve been thinking particularly about our electronic waste, or e-waste.  Just the other day I thought, “When we’re more financially stable, I want to upgrade to an iPhone.”

I caught myself.  I just got a new phone when I moved to BC and signed up with Bell.  It isn’t junky, works well, has apps and the like.  I admit, the iPhone is way cooler. Yet from what I can tell, they update or release a new iPhone every year.  So even if I had one now, in 18 months time I’ll want the newest one.

Did you know I’ve already had three iPods? I thought I lost the first one that came with my laptop.  I replaced it with another iPod that I purchased with my old credit card reward dollars.  The first one turned up at Village Green when I donated some backpacks (No, I didn’t ask for it back, I was happy they could sell it).  A few months later Grant ordered his new computer (before you attack me, his last laptop lasted 6 years) and I got the iPod touch.

Groan.  I feel dirty.

Since planned obsolescence is the way of the business world these days, there are 2 things I ask of all of us:

1) When buying an electronic device, don’t purchase something that will ‘do for now’.  Do your research (CNET is a great website that reviews electronics).  Buy something with the intention of not replacing it in a couple years.  Look for greener products.  I know it costs more, but think about why. When you buy quality products they last longer.

Unless you drop your laptop on hardwood floor and shatter the screen.  Can’t blame anyone but myself for that one. And no, I did not replace it.  Just plugged in a monitor.

2) Recycle your old electronics when possible.  BEWARE: A lot of recycling depots ship overseas. E-waste is considered one of the most toxic traded waste in the world. Check out e-Stewards to find a responsible recycler near you.

Have you purchased something that has proven to be good quality or responsibly made? I want to hear about it.

If you liked “The Story of Stuff,” Annie Leonard has a sequel on exactly this topic.

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