A two-year lifespan for laptops and just 18 months for phones is pretty terrible, but it’s widely accepted. Conspiracy theories about planned obsolescence aside (for now), this is an insanely fast turnover for luxury tech products, even ones that we use for hours a day.
Perhaps every phone you’ve ever owned is in some old drawer somewhere, and not landfill. What about every TV though, every CRT monitor? Of course, recycling old stuff is better than just chucking it away, but unfortunately even when recycled around 30% of a mobile phone’s resources are lost.
The vast majority of the emissions your gadgets will create, come from their creation. It’s practically impossible to charge your laptop enough times to outstrip the amount of energy it requires to dig metal out of the earth and then forge it into a sleek shape. Not buying this stuff in the first place is always going to be the more ecological choice, even if your fridge has got a nice green A for its SAP rating.
This all sounds rather gloomy, but the solution is simple: When stuff breaks, fix it. Maximising the lifespan of our gadgets is the first step to minimising the amount of waste we create. There are some fantastic websites that have made it their mission to help amateurs repair broken tech. Check out ifixit’s excellent repair manifesto for more compelling reasons to fix.
You might, of course, feel the urge to upgrade regardless of your old stuff being busted. The bi-annual carnival of new must-have iPhone features can be hard to resist, but for the sake of your wallet, and the planet, why not hold off until your current model gets smashed on a pavement or dropped down a toilet. And even when it does – a set of mini screwdrivers is a lot less than £999.