Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cutting Back On Waste

Let's try and prevent this - mobile phones on a tip

Planned obsolescence is when manufacturers design things to break or be unrepairable, so that you have to buy a replacement. This leads to mountains of unnecessary waste. What can you do?

France passed a law that makes manufacturers publish the expected lifespan of their products as a way of combating this. Sign this petition if you'd like to see that in the UK too. You'd be able to buy something and know that it won't break within a few months! It is the kind of policy that would end the throwaway and low-quality manufacture culture. Global demand for resources has exceeded the earth's supply. We need long-lasting products that are designed to be easy to repair.

Phones And PCs
Is your phone sluggish and clogged with apps? Don't get rid of it, just reset it. The process varies for each phone but will be covered in the manual or on the manufacturer's website. The phone will be like new. And if battery life has plummeted, a new battery will fix that, rather than wasting the whole phone.

Similarly, it is best to avoid contracts that offer free phones every so often - that setup is designed to encourage constant consumption and a feeling of tech-inadequacy. Technology companies love to bring out new models and make the old ones look obsolete, since their business function is to sell more, and encourage more consumption.

It's like PCs, people may think their old PC sluggish, but often they just need a fresh reinstall of Windows (or whatever operating system you use).

[Update - see conversation at the end of this post!]

Food Waste
It's a slightly different issue, but still connected to waste. Some facts in the article below.

Big Issue page 11, Nov 2013

Sanitary Protection
Just in case you've not come across reusable sanitary products, there are quite a few options nowadays e.g. the Mooncup and reusable towels, including Moon Times. Some women use them just for lighter times of the month, but it still cuts back on waste and money-spending. Another option would be to choose a product which is less environmentally-friendly than something reusable, but is still a good option, such as Natracare.

Household Waste
This article includes tips about cutting back on household waste.

Phones, part 2
[Added 30 July 2015] Today I contacted HTC to ask about getting one of their phones repaired.
Chat Transcript
Please wait while we find an agent to assist you...
You have been connected to Zan.
Zan:  Hi , thank you for contacting HTC Support, I am looking in to your query now.
Guest:  Thanks. Here's the summary: I have a HTC phone, the model I put in the summary. The touchscreen is not working on some areas, so needs fixing. It is out of warranty - how do I get it fixed? Who are the recommended HTC repairers?
Zan:  I'm sorry the line has ended we cannot repair it anymore.
Zan:  We no longer make parts and attempt of repair would cost more that the phone is worth.

Guest:  So HTC know of no-one that can repair their phones, and actually recommend adding old ones to the mountains of e-waste that pollute the environment?
Zan:  I can't arrange a repair for you sorry.
Guest:  That's not quite what I'm asking. HTC know of no-one that can repair their phones, no other company offering this service? Have set up no relationships with third party repairers? HTC just said: "No, throw it away, add to the world's waste problems"?
Zan:  How may I help you?
Guest:  Ideally by answering my questions.
Guest:  I can break them down into Yes/No questions if that is easier.
Guest:  Does HTC know any other company/person/service that can repair their phones? [Yes/No]
Thank you for using InstantService. You may now close this window.
Thank you for contacting us. To allow HTC to continue to improve our service can I ask that you complete a very short satisfaction survey by clicking here.
I never got to ask if HTC even take old phones back for recycling. Their approach is just to make new lines, expect you to throw the old ones away and buy new. Planned obsolescence in action right there. And if you query it they just ignore you and go offline. I'll put up with a wonky screen and see if I really need a smartphone any more - if I do then I'll avoid HTC and the like, and consider a Fairphone next time.

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