Most smart phones, tablets and laptops are designed and marketed to last for about two years.
(Pause now and imagine billions of mobile phone, iPod and tablet users across the globe dumping their devices on a two-year cycle.)
There are, however, small things we can do to extend the life of the lithium-ion batteries inside our devices, which could extend the life of the devices themselves. (Check your device manufacturer’s specific recommendations. Here’s Apple’s info.)
- Avoid extreme ambient temperatures, especially those above 95F/35C — don’t leave your device in a hot car, for example, and don’t use a case that allows heat to build up when the device is charging
- Aim for moderate charging — regularly allow your battery to run down to 25%, but avoid allowing the battery to go to 0%; you don’t need to worry about over-charging
- Lower your battery demand —keep WiFi on at all times (accessing WiFi uses less power than accessing cellular data), reduce display brightness, select low power mode or manually disable background applications, and disconnect peripherals and quit applications not in use
- Avoid ultra-fast chargers
- Update to the latest software
The “why” part of this post is at least two-fold.
One, most of us avoid thinking about what happens to our e-waste because we feel powerless. However, we can’t even begin to organize our power as consumers unless we become aware of the problems created by our e-waste. Scientific American magazine outlines the issues well in this blog post.
Two, the money we spend on devices goes somewhere. It goes to employees and middle class shareholders of companies like Samsung and Apple. It goes to tremendously wealthy shareholders. And it goes to support and grow the tech industry. Currently, two of those groups are well-organized and politically influential around their particular interests. We consumers can organize, too, to demand less exploitative and less environmentally damaging products and packaging. Greenpeace International and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology are two of many groups advocating for greener electronics.
Lastly, look for the least bad way to dispose of your e-waste. In the Twin Cities, TechDump is one option.