On technological obsolescence

If you’re reading this, I’m amusing that you are reading this on an electronic device. Whether that be a computer, cell phone or reading tablet of some sort. I’m wondering, is the device an updated and new version of your previous one? where is your first, second, third or fourth cellphone? computer? I have to admit that I’m not impervious to riding on the electronic market train. I myself have succumbed to updating  replacing my perfectly good blackberry for an iPhone. I know. I really am ashamed of myself. Here I am talking about technological obsolescence while I just bought myself an unnecessary new phone. I have now two cellphones sitting in their boxes in my closet. Had I not sold out to the new phone craze, I would be talking about about this topic of waste with a critical eye. But seeing that I can’t, I’ll talk about the topic in a “what now?” manner.

I think the most important thing you can do is reduce. Meaning do not do what I did. But who am I to lecture? There are also times when you have no choice but to replace your device prematurely because your electronic device breaks down due to planned obsolescence. So, that being said, whether it’s your VHS player, your DVD player (that you have now decided to replace with a blu-ray player), your old (functional/defunct) laptop, Walkman, phone (and the list goes on), here’s what you can do instead of throwing it away to sit in a landfill.

  1. “RRR” Reduce.Reuse.Recyle. As mentioned before, the best thing one can do is reduce. The term can can be appropriated in different ways depending on the lifestyle of the individual. No judgement here. But reduce whenever possible.
  • ReuseI recommend storing your electronics in a safe, dry and room temperature space when you no longer need it. You never know when your new device will break down, drown in the toilet or be forgotten on a bus. You’ll be happy that you have a back up.
    • Often times the chargers can be used for your new devices as well so that saves you having to spend more money
    • You can help a friend out if they are also encounter the same problems
    • If your device fails to turn on, try again in a few months ( I know this may be unrealistic for many) but in my case, after about 9 months of leaving it in the closet, it resurrected from its temporary grave. After some research, it turns out the CPU fan overheated and after cooling down the wires re-surged
    • Vinyl record players are becoming a desirable commodity (again). Perhaps other electronics will too.
    • Trade in/Swap: For some electronic companies, you can trade in your gadgets for credit or a new phone( I know, this is part marketing ploy, but if you need/ really want a new phone it’s better than throwing it out)
    • Recycle: If you must, always recycle rather than throwing it out in the garbage or your curbside. Be informed about the recycling process though. Just because you think you’re doing a good deed, doesn’t mean the material will be taken care of properly. Read here to find out where e-waste ends up.
  •  Find your local electronic recycling depot, here are just a few:
  • Canada,The United States and UK: ERA
  • Canada: Encrop PacificStaples, Ontario ( OES )
  • Next, learn about their recycling procedures: Incerated? Reused? Exported? ( In many developing countries, the recycling processes are not in a purpose-built plant and releases harmful toxins)

Finally, just be informed. It’s not a crime to love new gadgets, but just search “e-waste” or “electronic landfill” and look at the images. I’ll end off with a video from GOOD magazine about e-waste.


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