Community: Real Life

Go go gadgets

Mione Brackenborough

Mione, 22, loves spending time with her friends, travelling, partying and expressing her opinions.

As the life-span of our gadgets gets shorter, so does Mione's temper.

I was driving home one day and was annoyed to discover no music was coming from my speakers. I must have blown them, I thought. It seemed inevitable considering the volume I like my music. But on further investigation, to my horror of horrors, I found that my beloved iPod had given up the ghost.

I took it to my local Apple store hoping they would provide me with a quick solution to the problem, but after looking over it for five minutes the salesman said with a shrug: "There's nothing you can do". That riled me. But he went on to say the three years I had owned the iPod were considered a good life span. Just three years? When I spend 170 on a gadget I expect it to last a lot longer than three years! Why is everything so disposable nowadays?

In the next breath, the salesman said if I traded it in there and then, I could get 10% off a new one. No opportunity will be missed to make money! I thanked him and said I was going to keep it, hoping I could get further advice on how to bring it back to life. As I walked away I felt extremely let down. It's one thing to mistreat your belongings and have them break, but I knew I'd looked after my MP3 player. My confidence in the brand was diminished and I felt reluctant to splash out on a new one, especially if the same thing would happen again.

"Many gadgets end up being dumped or thrown away with the household rubbish."

This particular episode got me thinking about today's ever-evolving technological world and the accompanying disposable culture. Not only do things not last like they used to, but companies are forever bringing out something new. Advertising campaigns and the media pressure us to be up-to-date with electrical gadgets and people seem desperate to show off their new gear. But where do the old ones go? It's often more hassle than its worth (and also more expensive) to get our goods fixed and it's unrealistic to suggest they can be sold when there are better and more modern alternatives on the market. Many gadgets end up being dumped or thrown away with the household rubbish.

So what are the alternatives? From July 1st 2007, the Government outlined plans for retailers of electrical equipment to have a scheme in place for the collection, reuse and recycling of broken or unwanted electrical items. In theory, when our electrical items are no longer working or wanted, we should be able to return to the shop we bought them in and they will be dealt with in the appropriate manner, not just thrown away. There are also several websites promising cash for old mobile phones.

But these alternatives still don't get to the crux of the problem. Why waste energy on recycling when manufacturers could just build gadgets to last in the first place? Greedy companies have created a cruel throw-away culture that threatens to break both my bank balance and my heart.

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Updated: 16/07/2009

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