It looks like it’s business as usual for mobile manufacturers, providers and “enthusiasts”. In the past few days, we have once again witnessed a typical set of events: first of all, new versions of an iconic smartphone get unveiled, followed by an extraordinary round of hype and media attention – like there is no tomorrow, and not other news to write or blog about.
In the meantime, more mobile providers around the world launch new fancy contracts, designed to allow customers to change their mobile as often as they want, so that when they get tired of the latest and the greatest, they can move on and find (temporary) relief in a new gadget.
Unsurprisingly, and yet unsettlingly, we are then shown one more time videos of customers queueing for hours, for days, to be the first to touch and buy the latest smartphone.
However, there is also another world out there, and we are happy to report it is growing steadily: more and more people are getting increasingly frustrated with the throwaway culture endlessly marketed to them.
For example, they cheerfully queue at the community repair events we and others host, excited to learn more about how to repair their gadgets as well as to understand why the design of their products is the main reason beyond their limited durability.
At the same time, a growing movement supports innovative projects such as Fairphone, promoting a more transparent approach to creating a phone – as well as promising the official procurement and distribution of most spare parts.
And an impressive 14 million people has watched and shared the Phonebloks video illustrating the concept for a modular, upgradeable smartphone.
Our message and reminder remain the same: the greenest mobile phone is the one already in our pocket, and it’s crucial that we take action as citizens (as opposed to consumers!) to regain control of the products we own, make the most of them and extend their lifespan by learning simple maintenance and repair tips.
By learning to take stuff apart, we will progressively learn what to demand from manufacturers: more sustainable and open design, extended software and hardware support, better customer care. More importantly, we will learn that it’s much more satisfying to learn to repair the gadget we own than to constantly desire the one about to be released. Don’t despair – just repair!