The time has come for me to renew my mobile phone contract. Yes, once again, I find myself bombarded with renewal offers from my current provider, while competing operators fight hard to steal me away with promises of better packages and wondrous handsets capable of anything from full-blown GPS to intelligent voice recognition (heck, why would I want to talk to my friends when I can talk to my phone?).
Apparently, I’m supposed to take this opportunity to replace my old handset. There is just one snag with this - I like the phone I have now. It works. It’s familiar. There’s absolutely no reason that I should replace it. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if it broke, I’d probably feel more inclined to get it repaired than buy a new one. The problem is I can’t shake the feeling that this attitude is socially unacceptable – I’m supposed to yearn for the latest upgrade, and everyone around me thinks nothing of casting their old phone aside regardless of whether it still works or not.
This in itself may seem like an insignificant conundrum, but just think about it – when it comes to IT equipment, this throwaway culture manifests itself everywhere. Consumers and businesses alike turf out perfectly serviceable kit all the time, and manufacturers certainly know how to press all the right buttons to keep us hungry for more. The environmental consequences of this are enormous, and somehow government initiatives like the WEEE directive just don’t seem to be hitting the mark. To me, the solution to this problem is simple; we need to make things last longer instead of discarding them at the first sign of malfunction.
As the new government prepares to tighten the
nation’s belt – not to mention clamp down on the UK’s carbon footprint – it
should also be encouraging a more thrifty mentality towards the disposal of IT
equipment. Perhaps making IT repair more affordable would be a good place