Many places in the world have an electronic waste (e-waste) problem and the rate that it has increased is mind boggling.
For example in Canada, research indicates that each person is contributing 17 kilograms (32 pounds) more e-waste now than 20 years ago. This e-waste is made up of cellphones, computers, TVs and home appliances
Unfortunately, according to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership website, Canada is not an outlier. In 2019 the United States had a fairly similar e-waste figure of 46 pounds (21 kg) per capita per year.
An obvious first step is to reduce the amount of new items that we buy. But often manufacturers make this difficult by using the technique of planned obsolescence. This is when new products are brought to market, making older products out of date, and enticing consumers to buy the lastest model.
In addition, some companies have introduced obstacles, such as special parts or software only available from the manufacturer, which make it hard for someone to repair a broken device. But fixing items you own is not only cheaper in the long run and better for the planet, they also retain their value longer and can be sold secondhand.
In Canada, right-to-repair advocates are trying to change the rules that will give consumers the right to fix the devices they own.
If you are interested in learning more about the repair movement, which stretches well beyond Canada, check out the wonderful iFixit website where you’ll find manuals, a blog, and a community that will “never take broken for an answer”.