Friday, June 27, 2014

Electronic gadgets, rampant consumerism and the pollution we bring.

These days, electronics are built to last for 2 years, tops. I'm still using J's 1st generation iPad running iOS 5 and my old iPhone 3GS is going to be my mom's training phone.

My mom is afraid of technology, like most 60 something year old grandmas. She has trouble using the Blueray dvd player at home and she refuses to turn on the computer because she's worried about "breaking it".

I gave her my old iPhone, telling her that it's ok to break it because I can always just reset back to factory settings and restore her things from iCloud and it will be all ok again. She won't break it and spend money on a new phone. So right now, she's holding on to the phone and making calls over the network and FaceTime. Good times.

See, the latest updates are meant for newer versions of iPhones and iPads. By upgrading older versions of iPhones, we are making it worse. It is now slower than EVER to load any app, and battery life seems to go out the window. Apple used to promise quality products and updates. The tagline was "it just works." Now, it just works sometimes.

It is a business strategy to make something with a short lifespan. customers will be forced to buy a new phone every 1-2 years and that keeps mobile phone companies alive. Companies will not be able to make huge profits just by selling a top notch quality phone that lasts a lifetime.

-- The unbreakable Nokia.

However this is a very environmentally unfriendly move.
The amount of metals, plastic and circuitry that go into manufacturing new phones are huge. The factories that are running around the clock to make millions of phones per year often employ unfair employment practices. The fuel and resources needed to ship all these products worldwide for sale all sum up to a lot of environment damage. The supply chain for mobile phones, or any other manufactured items, consume so much resources.

Read it here: Digging for rare earths: The mines where iPhones are born

Another one: Your iPhone Causes China's Pollution

Nothing against Apple because all makers, whether Samsung or Apple, contribute to the issue. I use lots of Apple products, Apple TV, iMac, Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad, Time Machine etc. I like that everything is synchronised, whether it's my stuff or J's work. The Apple ecosystem just makes it easier for us.

It is also the increasing number of gadgets in my home that got me thinking about the waste that I'm contributing to, and the sheer consumerism that seems to have possessed everyone to queue up overnight to buy the latest gadget not because their lives depended on it, but the sheer determination to be the first to own something new. How is this healthy and why are we encouraging this?

Sure, most people say older phones and gadgets could be recycled but how many people actually bring their phones to the shops to do so? Most people just leave their old phones and gadgets somewhere in a drawer for them to die forgotten.

Is there a need for everyone to rush out and buy the latest gadgets just because it's 1mm thinner than the last model? Does it matter to the everyday consumer? Surely a company can do better than to roll out the same product packaged in a slightly thinner casing.

Or change the charger pin so much that it renders all my home chargers and docks obsolete.

-- You mean I have to shell out money for yet another piece of plastic to keep using my chargers and docks?!

Same product family, but different cables. This is such a pain since we have a whole spectrum of Apple products that could share the same charging cable once upon a time, and now I have to keep a separate cable nearby for J's newer Apple gadgets.

All I want is a gadget that has a great battery life, takes clear awesome photos and lets me play games when I'm bored. I think Phonebloks is a brilliant idea.

Completely customisable. If it's getting slow, upgrade the CPU. If you want a better camera, switch out the old one. This way you can have the best phone for you without chucking out a perfectly good phone every year.

Just perfect. Why don't we have this already!?

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