Do Mother Nature a big favor today: don’t recycle your broken electronics.
We all grew up with the old mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—your checklist for sustainable living. But recycling is the final item on that list for a reason. When it comes to electronics, recycling should be the last option. Not the first.
Last year, 1.75 billion phones were sold to consumers around the world. By the end of 2013, another 240 million tablets and 207 million PCs will be produced and shipped globally. Seamless plastic and sleek aluminum covers belie the messy origins of our favorite gizmos.
The laptop on your desk, the cell phone in your back pocket, and the tablet on your nightstand all house within them materials wrested from a reluctant earth—things like cobalt, cadmium, nickel, lead, copper, and gold. A single cell phone, for example, is composed of between 500 to 1,000 different components—some sourced from countries that aren’t particularly well-known for safe mining practices, human rights, or environmental standards.
As the demand for gadgets increases, so do raw material extraction rates. In the last 10 years, iron ore production has increased by 180%, cobalt by 165%, and lithium by 125%. Every year, mining operations have to go deeper into the earth, producing more waste for less raw materials. Copper ore deposits, for example, are only one-tenth the purity of the ore mined 100 years ago. Mining and producing just an ounce of gold creates approximately 80 tons of waste.
No matter what manufacturers try to tell you, there is no such thing as a green electronic. Read the rest of this article »
v. re·paired, re·pair·ing, re·pairs
1. To restore to sound condition after damage or injury; fix
2. To set right; remedy
3. To renew or revitalize.
4. To make up for or compensate for (a loss or wrong, for example).
When I was three, I dropped a penny bank: the ear of my beloved ceramic bear sheared right off. My mother pulled out the glue and we fixed him up together. When I was six, I crashed my bike. My father placed a socket in my bandaged hands and we readjusted the deformed handlebars. When I was eight, I learned how to fix a chipped tile. At 10, I replaced the wheels on my rollerblades. By 15, I could replace the major components of a computer. At 16, I was putting trendy patches on my jeans.
I grew up in a D.I.Y. home. My mother is an amazing seamstress and cook. She made most of my clothes and childhood toys, halloween costumes, and quilts. My father is the handyman. He started remodeling our family home before I was born and he is still putting the “finishing touches” on it. We joke that he has the Winchester curse (keep at it, Dad!). He built us a swing set, a garden, and fixed almost everything we broke. And he insisted that we all helped. Read the rest of this article »
Two months ago, we asked the iFixit community to take a survey. We already knew our community was resourceful, opinionated, fiercely independent, and probably good looking. But we wanted more: We wanted to know who you were, what you fixed, and why you repair.
The response was overwhelming. More than 13,000 of you took the survey. We’ll be sharing the results of that survey very soon, but your answers to one question in particular captured our undivided attention: “What is your most epic break story?”
We expected the stories to be good, we just didn’t know they were going to be this good. Almost 5,000 people spilled the gritty details of their most embarrassing, hilarious, creative, harrowing, oh-crap-I-broke-it moments. A lot of the time, you people even came up with amazing MacGyver-esque fixes. We read every single one of those stories. With enthusiasm.
And when you have exclusive access to that much awesome, you just have to share it. Today we are starting a brand new installment of blog posts, which we’re calling “The Amazing Break.” Here’s your first taste: Read the rest of this article »
This is the future of Starbucks coffee tables across the country. (Cue the 2001: A Space Odyssey music.)
We had the majority of the iFixit team try the Oculus Rift, and pretty much all of us were queasy after about 10 minutes of playing Team Fortress 2 in VR mode. But now that we have a taste of it, we can barely wait until this technology is perfected. The Rift is an experience we’ve never seen before—even the non-gamers among us were amazed.
The good news doesn’t stop there. The Rift—at least in Developer Kit form—scores an excellent 9 out of 10 on our repairability scale. It uses standard screws, has pretty much no adhesive, and the whole thing comes apart in under ten minutes. However, our Rift is essentially a beta product, so we’re not sure how much it will differ from the final, consumer version. We’ll put the final version under the knife in due time, but so far so good! Read the rest of this article »
I’m lucky enough to own an Apple Extended Keyboard II, which belongs to my Macintosh SE. Unfortunately, it wasn’t doing much good connected to my rarely-used SE. So, I figured it would find a better home on my desk at work, where I spend the day pounding away on a crummy keyboard anyway.
The Apple Extended Keyboard II is a dream to type on because it uses mechanical switches. And I lucked out: Apple made a lot of revisions of this keyboard with cheap switches, but it turns out that I got one of the good ones. Mine is a USA model with authentic Alps Cream key switches.
The biggest stumbling block to the project was the computer’s interface. The Apple Extended Keyboard II is from the days of ADB, or Apple Desktop Bus. The internet revealed two possible solutions: An expensive and sometimes-hard-to-find adapter by Griffin, or a $16 microcontroller and some DIY elbow grease. Naturally, I chose the latter.
Picture it: you need to buy a new remote control. You cruise to the store to pick up a new remote and some extra AA batteries—they run out, after all. Best be prepared. You take the remote home, open the package, and—wait a minute! This isn’t your mom’s remote control. It’s a super slick gadget that appears to be glued together for an über modern look. Great!
But there’s a downside to seamlessness. You can’t replace the battery yourself. There are no instructions provided on how to get into the remote, and it’s nearly impossible to tear apart. That means once those encased AA batteries run out, you’ll probably have to buy a new remote control. And the cycle repeats. Forever.
Sound appealing? It runs counter to commonsense to own a battery-run device that doesn’t allow you to replace the batteries quickly and easily. There’s a reason that people own gadgets like alarm clocks, remotes, and watches for years and years: they can switch out the batteries themselves.
There’s no such thing as a sealed remote control yet, but it’s closer to reality than you might think. Every day, we settle for expensive electronics—cell phones, tablets, computers—with batteries that can’t be removed and replaced. These products might look great, but when it comes to batteries, recycling, and reuse, there are some big problems. Read the rest of this article »