Don’t Rebuy and Replace; Reuse and Recycle


Harper Wicker-Lenseigne (he/him), Staff Writer

Nowadays, consumables are prevalent almost everywhere. Single-use water bottles, straws, and plastic utensils are very common in the food service industry. However, electronics are also becoming increasingly more unreliable as well. While these devices might last longer than plastic utensils, manufacturers are intentionally prohibiting the ability to repair these devices and limiting their lifetime harming the consumer, the environment, and forcing consumers to buy new devices instead of fixing them.

Apple devices are noted in particular for their usage of proprietary components to increase brand loyalty. Apple iPhones continue to use their own standard for wired charging cables, the Lightning port. This means more charging cables are purchased and, inevitably, thrown away. 

In the European Union, progress has been made on this front, forcing Apple to make their new iPhone models use the standardized USB-C cables. USB-C is a commonly used cable on many of the devices you may likely already own. Apple’s recent MacBook models already use the USB-C connector.

Planned obsolescence is also something many electronics manufacturers are being accused of. This means companies are being accused of purposely making your devices fail prematurely in order to encourage buying new devices. This essentially means more profit for the company and more e-waste in landfills. 

One notable example of this is in the inkjet printing industry, where Hewlett-Packard, a large printer and laptop manufacturer, was accused of putting microchips in their ink cartridges to falsify the ink indicators in the cartridge and to verify that third-party non-HP brand ink cartridges were not installed in the printer.

On January 28th, Ida B. Wells High School held an electronics fundraiser for grad night, where people came to donate old electronics for recycling. The most common device that seemed to be donated were printers. Although, one of the most interesting finds was a Macintosh Server G4 previously owned by a teacher here at IBW.  Printers are prone to breaking or to simply failing due to their short lifetime.

Consumers should be conscious of their choices when it comes to buying new devices. Trying to buy longer-lasting devices will help the environment, and help you save on buying more and more of the same device, after it falls out of functionality.