by Marsha Rakestraw
Because I want to minimize my footprint on the Earth and others, I try to make the products I buy last as long as possible.
Every few years when I have to buy a new laptop, I seek out information about which brands and models do more good and less harm (and now that I have a smartphone, I’ll use that same criteria when I have to replace it).
But as with many products, longevity and repairability haven’t been built into most electronics, since companies want us buying their stuff more often.
Because of increasing citizen pressure, more companies are shifting their practices to make their products more sustainable and ethical, which can include repairability.
iFixit and Greenpeace have collaborated to publish their Rethink IT guide, which highlights some of the brands and models of laptops, smartphones, and tablets that are most and least repairable.
They evaluated the products of 17 brands on criteria such as:
- battery replaceability
- display replaceability
- no special tools needed
- spare parts available
Companies rated higher included Fairphone, HP, LG, and Dell. Companies like Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft ranked lowest.
Some key findings of the product guide are:
- Trending away from repairability: Design complexity, combined with the practice of soldering or gluing separate pieces together, makes repairing time consuming.
- Non-replaceable batteries: Nearly 70% of all devices tested had batteries that were impossible or difficult to replace.
- Non-standard tools: To discourage user repair, non-standard tools are increasingly required for working with proprietary screws and other parts.
- No access to repair manuals or spare parts: Very few electronics manufacturers provide users with information about how to fix their products.
iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said, “Electronics take a massive amount of energy, human effort, and natural resources to make. And yet, manufacturers produce billions more of them every year–while consumers keep them for just a few years before tossing them away. E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. We should be able to make electronics a more sustainable part of our lives.”
This report is an important reminder about the collective power of our voices and choices when we advocate for a more just, compassionate, humane world.
Find out more about buying products that do more good and less harm with our curated Ethical Consumerism Pinterest board.