Repurposing Old Gadgets to Reduce Global E-waste Production


With the coming of another year, the latest releases within the tech industry are sure to follow. From the newest smartphone to enhanced gaming consoles, automation with artificial intelligence, or enhanced connectivity with 5G, 2021 will certainly bring in a lot of innovations. These are just some of the things to look forward to, especially given the role that technology has played in helping people cope with the circumstances of the pandemic.

However, all the hype for possession of new technology poses the tendency of older models to be left behind. The phasing out and eventual disposal of outdated gadgets are inevitable. This highly consumerist lifestyle that countless people subscribe to also presents environmental problems that are often overlooked.

Obsolete Machinery

The lifespan of various gadgets has significantly decreased throughout the years. Often, a brand-new model will most likely be replaced with a better alternative in a year, sometimes even less than that. This leads to the global production of electronic waste to rise substantially. A report from July 2020 showed that e-waste production surged by up to 21% within the last five years. That is a huge increase in such a short period.

Moreover, the problem of e-waste generation can also extend to serious human health risks. Numerous gadgets often contain toxic or hazardous materials. The same report observed that approximately 50 tonnes of mercury are released into the environment annually. This leaves the health of various workers in a vulnerable position for exposure.

Go-go Gadget

Instead of immediately disposing of outdated hardware, it’s worth thinking twice about how they can be utilized in their current state. Sure, many stores offer trade-in policies, but that won’t make much of a difference. The same fact applies if they were to be sold second-hand.

There are countless ideas a person could go through for repurposing old gadgets when they can no longer function as fast or as efficiently when they were brand-new. Not only will this help in reducing global e-waste production, but it can also provide a household with better equipment at a minimal cost.

Old Digital Cameras

People who are into photography, either as a hobby or professionally know how expensive the latest DSLR models can cost. Really, owning a digital camera is an investment, especially with all the interchangeable parts like the lenses. What if a camera can no longer keep up with the same level of quality that the newer units produce?

Of course, the first instinct for many would be to sell an old camera to aid in the cost of purchasing a new one. However, digital cameras could also be turned into great webcam alternatives. Although several laptops come equipped with webcams of their own, using a digital camera in its place will surely improve the quality of your photos and videos. Especially with the current setup of working and studying from home, enhancing video quality can go a long way.

Old Smartphones

It will come as no surprise if a person can cycle through at least two to three smartphones per year. Smartphones probably take up one of the more significant percentages of the global e-waste production since tech companies churn out new models at such an alarming pace. Naturally, all the older units will tend to pile up.

For those on the more cautious side, using smartphones as security cameras for the home is a viable option. So long as it’s connected to a steady power supply, it can easily provide always-on, real-time video feeds that can be viewed from anywhere using another phone with the appropriate application. Making it look discreet is also easier given the relatively smaller sizes of much older smartphones than the latest ones.

However, before attempting any repurposing, it would be worthwhile for these smartphones to be brought to places that offer phone repair services to guarantee that they’ll function as intended.

Old Tablets

Tablets don’t get replaced as quickly as smartphones do. Although they often share the same functionality, a smartphone’s portability triumphs over the tablet. Tablets are more commonly used at home or in the office, whereas smartphones can be used on-the-go.

This is why one of the more prevalent alternatives for outdated tablets is to use them as digital picture frames. Given their size, they are perfect for displaying personal photos or even digital art pieces. Choosing where it should be mounted while allowing it to be plugged in at all times will probably be the most challenging aspect.

Generally, despite what many believe, a piece of technology can often surpass its own lifetime. Simply serving to function as something other than their intended use. Surely, there are other, more creative possibilities for all sorts of old tech. 2020 made a lot of people realize the importance of technology in their daily lives. This merely calls for them to advocate for a more sustainable lifestyle in terms of their technology consumption.

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