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A bonus rant

Via the Risks Digest:
Consumers' penchant for constant upgrades -- new cell phones, a sleeker laptop -- is causing havoc in the environment, and with technology products now accounting for as much as 40% of the lead in U.S. landfills, e-waste has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. solid waste stream.
Consumers' penchant? I'm for the most part perfectly happy with my existing technology, but when I need to repair it, parts are often simply not available or they cost more than a new one.

For example, my cell phone's battery isn't holding a charge as long as it used to. So I went to my cell phone provider to see how much a new battery would cost. A new battery costs twice as much as a new phone (which comes with a new battery) would cost - not another phone of the same model as mine, but next model up.

With that kind of pricing, am I going to replace just the battery, thus saving a few square inches of space in the landfill? No, of course not! I'm going to replace the whole phone!

As a consumer, I resent being blamed for the behavior of technology companies that make repairing rather than replacing or upgrading all but impossible.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
keryx
Jan. 27th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC)
Amen. I have an older phone that I actually would PREFER to keep, but it's cheaper to just buy a new phone than to continue to replace batteries.

And computers are much the same. The cost of having someone fix a broken piece of hardware is nearly equal to buying a newer, schmankier model of the same thing. It's not consumer behavior, it's pricing. GRRR.

Sorry to go on, this just annoys me greatly.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Jan. 27th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
The explosive rate of change in technology is being driven by companies that want to sell more products.

Of course it's feasible to support old technologies - a quick search on the web will show you that all sorts of people are supporting old technologies that they care about.

However, it's true that tech companies don't find it cost-effective to do such support themselves. I wonder whether that would change, if they had to pay the full cost of disposing safely of the hazardous waste they generate.
johnpalmer
Jan. 27th, 2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
But, but, that means higher prices, and less toxic waste, which is BAD FOR CONSUMERS because it means HIGHER PRICES.

(I think I'm a bit cynical today)
firecat
Jan. 28th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
I see a corporate PR job with your name on it!
cjsmith
Jan. 27th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC)
I'm for the most part perfectly happy with my existing technology, but when I need to repair it, parts are often simply not available or they cost more than a new one.

Amen. I hate this. (In fact, related trends form part of the reason I don't feel proud to say I work as a computer programmer.)
the_siobhan
Jan. 28th, 2005 05:53 pm (UTC)
I have the same rant. I've gone through three printers because the cost of replacing a printhead was more than the cost of replacing the whole thing.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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