Fixing our own devices extends their lifespan, saves the environment, and creates jobs.
Death by Design follows entrepreneurs Kyle Wiens and Luke Soules in their mission to help consumers repair their devices. They founded iFixit in 2003 when they realized how hard it was to find parts, tools, and repair manuals for their own electronics.
Kyle Wiens: “Ford would never sell you a car and say, “We’re not gonna make tires available to keep your car running after 30,000 miles.” You have an entire ecosystem, an entire industry that’s built on secrecy and we’re one organization that’s trying to pry open the hood a little bit, show people what’s inside.”
We followed Luke on a trip to southern China where he looked for a manufacturer to make circuit boards for an iFixit tool in an environmentally responsible way.
Luke Soules: “The manufacturing impact of our electronic devices is far bigger than you would expect based on their physical size. One stat estimates that 165 pounds of raw materials go into the average cell phone. To make all the parts, you need hundreds of gallons of purified water. And after they’re done, that water is contaminated and needs to be put through a cleaning process. If it’s not done properly it all just gets dumped into the water system. So the environmental impact of making a device like this is far, far bigger than what you see as a finished product.”
IFIXIT IS CALLING EVERYONE TO JOIN THEIR MISSION
Maintaining and repairing devices dramatically improves their life span. If we doubled the length of time we use an average piece of electronics, we could halve the amount of e-waste created. If we take care of our devices and fix them when they break, we can do a lot better than that.
Products that can be repaired, should be repaired. Even when recycled, about 30% of electronic material cannot be recovered. Refurbished cell phones can be sold to someone new. Repaired computers bridge the digital divide. Even better, repair jobs are local. They won’t ever be shipped overseas.
♦ Take the repair pledge and promise to repair your things instead of tossing them away.
♦ Currently there are over 19,500 step-by-step manuals for over 5,500 devices freely available on the iFixit website. Find a repair manual.