Repair or not to repair – that is not the question.

When thinking about repairing a product to be green 1st we have to go to how we get the product in the first place.
1. The first thing would be, Reduce, as in the first steps of (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
Ask yourself or (the group that make buying decisions) these questions:

    • Do you really need or even want the computer, electronic item or gadget?
      Example who really needs to buy brand new DVD or Blue Ray players. or anything that takes a disk or cartridge.  (not talking about buying used or reusing because there is a green element to that) besides the discs you buy take additional energy and waste to make and buy.
  • What are the alternative to this product? Now more than ever there are alternatives to almost every product.
    • I try to limit what I buy by using devices that have multiple features and using them. For my clock/ watch: I use my microwave, my computer, crank clock radio charger flashlight, and my mobile phone.
      (a printer is one multifunction device I would Not recommend as it is not green and is used less and less as technologies advance)
    • I quit buying flash drives, since I use online storage to meet my backup and sharing needs. (I still have 2 flash drives, and also use an external hard drive, but I won’t be buying more)
    • use phone, email, chat, web, video conference instead of driving
    • You can use a computer as a TV like I do, or some TVs have the capabilities that computers do, and the lines between product continues to blur with tablets, smart phones and even cameras.
    • Buy, rent, and checkout  ebooks, music, software, video games, videos, and photos digitally online instead of buying the physical product or physical media.
  • How likely is it to break? How long is it likely to last without being repaired?
    • Although having modular parts may make things easier to fix or upgrade, Having any moveable parts is likely to cause failure.
    • In the case of a laptop, the hard drive (one that is not a solid state drive SSD) is most likely to break.
    • For a smart phone: the glass, because the whole phone is a moveable part when you move it, and any connectors. (batteries can sometimes be an issue too for anything portable)
  • How much room does it take? How much does it weigh? Will it be hard on my back? or in the case of e-readers – how much easier on my back will it be than carrying a bunch of clunky books?
  • How much energy does the product take? Is it made from recycled materials? How far away is it made?
    These questions come before you ask how repairable, upgradable or recyclable it it is.

2. The second part of the cycle is Reuse.

  • The main thing about reuse is taking good care of your products ( if possible). It’s not an easy task, I have had to have most my cameras repaired. But taking care of your products and doing preventative maintenance helps avoid the need for repairs.
  • This may include having a decent place to keep your products such as desk or a case.
  • Cleaning your products properly.  Keeping your products clean (and keeping them in clean places) is  a good preventative maintenance and is a good way of avoiding repairs.
  • When a problem happens, unless it is an obvious hardware problem, I usually check if there is a software solution first. Other than turning a product off and on , cleaning, or tightening connections; software solutions are cheaper, quicker, and greener than getting new hardware or part.
  • If hardware component does fail(not just because it is dirty), then this is where a repair or part replacement comes in. And the old part still needs to be recycled properly.
  • Sometimes a simple upgrade in memory can help speed a computer up. (if you have to replace one instead of filling an empty slot the old one can either be reused in another computer or recycled)
  • If your product works well, but you aren’t in the need of it anymore you can either give it away or sell it to someone that wants or needs it.
  • Buying a used product that works well and meets your needs, not only can reduce waste, but can also save money.

3. The final part is any electronic waste needs to be properly recycled including any parts that are replaced in a hardware repair or upgrade that you won’t sell or use again.
Here is a list of collectors in Minnesota