Trends are, by definition, fleeting. And that’s especially true when it comes to clothes. So there’s a fun sort of irony in the newest fashion trend: clothes that are designed to last forever. The last few years has seen a resurgence of clothes and accessories that resist the impulse of fast fashion. Garments that are sustainable because they won’t go into a landfill anytime soon: they are easily repaired, made out of quality materials, and designed to never go out of style.
According to a new EPA report, Americans increased their overall production of municipal waste in 2013 to 254 million tons of waste—or 4.4 pounds per person per day. But e-waste was one of the few categories where recycling rates increased significantly—by ten percentage points in just one year. So, good job everyone: fewer electronics are winding up in the trash heaps. But we’re not done yet. Recycling is just one piece of the larger moving puzzle that is sustainable resource management.
Not only is this keyboard repairable—it’s got repair instructions actually printed on the circuit board. Designing a product for repair means making it durable, making it modular, and making repair documentation available from the get-go. The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard does all that and more.
I don’t think I ever realized how amazing mechanical watches are until I saw one dissected in front of me—its labyrinth of gears, screws, and wheels untangled and laid out on a worktable. Sure, mobile devices that send information from space to your pocket are pretty amazing too. But old-school watches are mechanical marvels: one-inch-wide, self-propelled machines—exact enough to track something as precise as time, engineered to last for generations.
In terms of slim, manufacturers are having a tough time beating Apple’s MacBook Air. Dell’s new Air competitor, the XPS 13, may have missed the mark by a whole millimeter—but we weren’t too put off. Especially since the XPS is considerably smaller otherwise, and still manages to include a 13.3 inch high definition display that looks like it’s floating in midair. The insides definitely aren’t as polished or streamlined as in a MacBook Air, but you could convince us the XPS was an Air prototype.
A couple days ago, my boss, Kyle, handed me a plain brown box and asked if I knew Bunnie. You know, the guy who (literally) wrote the book on hacking the Xbox. Apparently, Bunnie Huang started a Crowd Supply-funded project to make an entirely open source computer—and iFixit backed the campaign. “And here’s the computer,” my boss said to me, “so go do something cool with it.” All right, then: Challenge accepted.
Under the pretense of enforcing copyright law, manufacturers have been systematically chipping away at our ownership rights. That’s not acceptable. And iFixit isn’t just going to stand by and watch it happen. Today, we draw a line in the sand. iFixit is proud to announce the Digital Right to Repair Coalition—a united front of consumers, environmental organizations, the aftermarket, and digital rights advocacy groups. Together, we are fighting to take back control of the things we own.
Earlier this year, we told you about Keurig’s attempt to quash off-brand coffee by integrating DRM into its newest model of brewing machine. At the time, we thought that coffee barons locking their customers into name-brand coffee pods was the most boneheaded deployment of DRM we’d ever seen. Turns out, we were wrong. You know what else features DRM these days? Kitty litter. Welcome to the future, people. Now, even your cat’s crap comes with a steaming side of corporate crap.
Disposable electric toothbrushes have built-in batteries that can’t be replaced. Sometimes stuff that seems convenient is a big pain in the long run—it breaks, and it can’t be fixed. Buy something more durable and repairable instead.
Thinking about buying a FitBit? Our suggestion: don’t. Online reviews are full of complaints about devices that die, fast. And the FitBit Flex is among the least repairable things we’ve ever torn down. Save your money for something fixable.
Christmas is the high-water mark of new stuff—and a lot of that new stuff is going to be electronic. As Wired’s Christina Bonnington pointed out yesterday, the mounting influx of shiny, thin devices is an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. If we’ve got any shot at meeting the e-waste challenge head-on, manufacturers are going to have to start giving a product’s end-of-life a lot more consideration.