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Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness

Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness

Everyone has one of these. It’s like your
phone graveyard and with mine they know there’s like a couple of Kindles and
then iPad at least one and they’re all these like phones. And once upon a time
these were like the most important things I had. And now it’s just sort of in
this drawer and I shut it and I hope they kind of go away. As a scientist I
spend a lot of time in nature. I’m also a tech geek.
My phone is pretty much my entire life, but it isn’t just an environmental
problem once I’m done using it. Around 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions that
come from a smartphone occur before it even reaches your hands. On average, Americans
swap out their phone every two years. And about 1.4 billion phones have
produced and sold every year, but where these phones have put together matters
as far as how big the energy footprint is. They make these massive trips around
the world to be built, assembled, and then shipped. Much of the journey’s down on giant
container ships, that go for a country to country for each step of the process. This happens with most things we buy that are made overseas. We often associate
smog with our cars, but collectively these ships can cause the same amount of
smog and particulate pollution as all the cars in the world. That’s kind of a
big deal Once a phone is put together, it really isn’t designed to be taken apart.
And that means it’s hard to repair. We are users of electronics, we aren’t
participants with them anymore. There’s a great history of tinkering, for many
other types of products, cars especially. And I have a really really robust repair
and tinkering community that surrounds this. And you know like getting underneath our
sink and taking things apart, and figuring out how they work and really
feeling confident about that. Our phones are these futuristic looking devices.
They almost seem like sci-fi. So it’s intimidating to open them up and
look inside. But fixing your phone isn’t impossible.
It could save you a ton of money along with reducing waste. Ifixit’s Gwendolyn
Gay gives tutorials on how to take apart and fix your electronics. So I went to
see her, to see if she could make this process less scary. So this is my
personal cell phone that I’m gonna show. How many times you open your personal
phone? I’ve opened it a couple of times and this is relatively new, so I don’t I
don’t I haven’t needed to go in there other than just of curiosity. Sure you want to do this? You’re very worried for me. No because you know it’s like
the reason is everything from banking to travel, everything is on my phone. Right.
And I think that’s why we get so nervous about monkeying with it. I think that holds people back, but I also think the price of the phone holds people back. Knowing that you’re voiding your warranty, so if you open your phone, this
$600 phone, you’re just S.O.L don’t do it right. Right. So there are
resources if you’re brave enough to repair your phone but what if opening your
phone wasn’t so complicated in the first place? There actually is a company trying
to do exactly this. It’s called The Fairphone Now I didn’t even know you could
actually build a phone like that, like you could actually build it. Like a Lego
set like that, but but so that’s the Fairphone. Fairphone, this is actually the
second one. Fairphone 2, and they’re only available in Europe and I can actually
do, So easy pie, we’re already in. And you can take out the battery just
like that. Wow. No tools needed and then the display is very similar, you
just unlock it here and then you can slide the display off. Really. So yeah and I
can do that whole process in less than 20 seconds. If all I had to do was pull a
few tabs to fix my phone, I would be more inclined to fix it myself. Now the Fairphone has plans in the future to release phone to the US, but
with no specific date set, I’ll need to figure out another option. Like getting
rid of my old phones responsibly. So let me ask you a different question. Why don’t I actually want to throw this away? You don’t want to throw this away because it everything inside here is going to
create some kind of waste and it’s going to be toxic waste and if we’re sending
it to a place that is recycling it, say, we still don’t get everything out of it. What’s the most toxic thing in a phone? I’d say the battery for sure. You remove it wrong, it will explode, so you have to take out the battery. Really, this can blow up? Yes, yeah. mm-hmm yes. Don’t do that. So what
do we do with our cell phone graveyard? Now most of us just hoard them like I do,
because it isn’t just as simple as your typical curbside pickup. But there are
easy ways to do this. In New York and California, stores that sell you a cell
phone are required to accept it back from you for recycling. Companies like
gazelle will even buy your old phones off you. There’s also organizations
dedicated to mapping out where you can drop your electronics off. Companies like
Apple are starting to figure out a better recycling process. They have a
robot called Liam that can take apart an iPhone 6 in 11 seconds. That’s roughly
1.2 million iPhones per year. The small screws and other components can be used
again. Raw materials like silver found in the phone’s circuits, can be used in solar
panels And the tungsten that makes your phone buzz, can be reused in tools. But what if we could design a phone that just lasted longer? Now one of the big
reasons why we replace our phones is because our batteries just stop holding
a charge. Now imagine your battery charging in minutes instead of hours. And measuring its lifespan in decades rather than just a couple of years. University of California researchers are starting to turn to 3d printing, to make this
happen. There’s the potential there that you can basically design the battery to
improve its performance, so you could start to play around with design
parameters that you just didn’t have control over in traditional
manufacturing. With 3d printing, if we can now print a battery in any arbitrary
shape that we want, what you can do then is
design your phone however you want to design phone, and then fill it, the empty
space in there, with your energy storage material. These batteries would be made
using an exciting new compound called graphene. This means we could avoid
harmful mining of materials like lithium found in today’s batteries. All of this
technology is in its early stages, but it could radically transform the lifespan
of AI electronics. Look, it’s perfectly common in the airline industry to get on
a plane that’s like 30 years old. You can’t possibly imagining making a
phone call on a 30 year old cell phone. You wouldn’t even know how to charge it
today. And that’s the fundamental way we use technology today and that it’s
innovating so fast and built in such a way that it actually promotes
disposability, but I think we’re actually at a very interesting tipping point. As
people become more aware, companies become more sensitive to this issue. Hey Liam what are you doing for Earth Day? So, the next big flashy thing with our smartphones might not be better graphics
or a faster processor, but instead making them more sustainable. Ever wondered
about the carbon footprint of your smartphone or some amazing materials
that could revolutionize your electronics? to find out more.

100 thoughts on “Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness”

  1. I usually sell them on Ebay to some1 who refurbishes them once they die or i don't use it anymore. Mite as well – i have enough crap.

  2. Shift phone is another example of a modular style phone which you can easily upgrade once newer, better technology is on the market. Want a better camera? No problem. You don't need to buy a new phone, just the new camera and replace your old one. Better CPU? The same thing, absolutely no problem.
    That's the environmental friendly future that saves you money on the way, too.


  3. Protip: buy a used phone. Smartphones don't changed much year to year, so buying one two or three years old will be fine. It's reusing products rather than requiring new material. And there's probably not a warranty, so you don't have to worry about that when tinkering.

  4. Yeah.. not everyone does it. I don’t store my old technology in a drawer like just trade them in for a discount or something.

  5. Totaly different reality. Does everyone has a grave of smartphones? A mean… I am realy using mine for 6 years, and dont have any other in house.

  6. If I had a bunch of phones I would ACTUALLY use them until
    A. They won’t work anymore
    B. Give it to my parents
    C. I decide to sell it

  7. you have a good point but you forgetting one thing…… Companys Design Phones to fail on Purpose so that you can help feed the inevitable cycle that helps keep them in business to create more phone

  8. I’ll be honest, based on experience, a phone or device that lasts longer is an apple product. I’ve had my iPad mini 2 for 4 and a half years, computer for 4 years and others for longer. The only true issue is they get outdated due to ram or hard drive and become to slow.

  9. Wow, American consumerism… A drawer full of kindles and iPads? In most parts of Europe we can donate them to charities who then get paid by companies who recycle them.

  10. Lol on my drawer, I have like 2 tablets, 4 phones, and 2 PSPs that I haven't used in years. One of them is a Nokia flip phone that I haven't used since 2008.

  11. I destroy me phones when i get a new;) so i’ve destroyed my old iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, now i got a IPhone X. I dunno where my 4S And 5S is but nvm

  12. I only use dumbphones so battery swapping is easy-peasy! I've stockpiled enough to keep me going for years or until 3G service is discontinued.

  13. recycling your phones is best because it allows companies to reuse coltan ! coltan is unsustainably mined, where habitat destruction occurs and harms the biodiversity of the ecosystem ! best buy has incentives in place to motivate people to recycle their electronics and i’m sure other places that sell electronics do as well !

  14. My first feeling, what a wasteful man. I do have a smart phone but I plan to keep my Samsung Note 4 till it basically is beyond repair. Unfortunately I have had to replace the battery.

  15. I just gut any old electronics i have and try to do something useful with them. i usually cant though.

  16. It's great how the speaker sort of like….kinda…like….uses a lot of, like…. sort of… words and phrases that sort of show that he, like, hadn't really, you know, like…. sort of prepared at all for the, like, introduction to a film that he sort of like has made, like, himself….sort of.

  17. I have a 5 years old iphone
    3 years in the hands of my dad, 2 in the hand of my brother and now. i have an iphone 5 for 3 months
    thats a bit insane or the most ok thing to happen while my dad gifted my mon with an Iphone X cause her cellphone was stolen… i have a problem

  18. I don’t have a drawer but I do have 2 old phones that I mostly use to jailbreak or to multitask.

  19. I used my iPad 3 till 2017 then I got a iPad Air two the reasons why I switched: 1. The screen broke twice 2. It was super slow

  20. Me As a Grandpa:

    Grandchildren: Why Don't You Use Thi-

    Now I Know Why My Grandpa Doesn't Want To Change XD

  21. If you don’t know Taiwan the little island beside China Taiwan
    actually makes high tech technology for example like VR And VR is basically virtually Reality also Taiwan makes phones and electronics And after we build the electronics we ship it to other countries cool eh?

  22. I love this content but you're just talking about NY and California and Europe but what about the rest of the world, I live in Algeria and I visited many African/Asian countries and I saw how incredible the waste is there so… You should give some advices that are available for everyone not just for the firstworld countries

  23. The real reason people keep changing their phone isn't because it doesn't work efficiently anymore, but because they NEED to buy the newest one not to look poor.

  24. I've been using the same old phone, iPhone 4s, for years on end still and it's my strong baby. Still healthy like new (kisses it)~ can't change it 🙁
    I always take my electronics to those stores where there are people obsessed to recycle parts ^^ it's a win-win game.

  25. I keep my phone till it either becomes obsolete or it becomes broken beyond repair, or some times I give it to my brother who loves to take things apart and it them back together again till he figures out how they work and then he uses them to make his own technology things for fun (he is 15 by the way)

  26. I don't really understand what sort of privilege it takes to leave a slightly outdated iPad in a drawer and NOT sell it …

  27. Here is a thought… how about selling it when u are done using it… for other people smartphones even old ones are a luxury..

  28. You don't need to design a phone with big battery life and robust body… You already have that… Nokia 310
    We need a phone that is always on the edge with the new technological advances.

  29. Depending on the condition it's in…Telus in Canada will buy back your old phone – they gave us about $100 for our old Samsung S6's when we upgraded to S8. Better than nothing and we had the warm fuzzy feelin' we weren't contributing to toxic wastes. The $100 more than paid for a new Otter box for the S8s, too.

  30. Why is he so impressed about taking out a phone battery? Until like 5 years ago, most smartphones need their battery taken out if you want to access the sim card.

  31. Graphene is not new we have had long back in time graphite in various places such as our pencils and one layer of this amorphous compound is called as graphene and because of this we can write on paper with our ✏️

  32. I mean it sounds nice and everything but if phones last decades what happens to the people that make the phones and the phone company's

  33. I have a 7 years old classic samsung mobile, and Ive bought a 20 euroes nokia a few weeks ago to make sure, I have enought phones for the next decade.

  34. Why don't we just make a phone where you just buy a new battery for a new version. Well that may be very hard including that you can't change the exterior without a professional re-do

  35. Everytime you do not use a phone leave 1 as back up and sell the previous back up, that will help a person be able to upgrade to a new device, that you might not use.

  36. In Karachi, Pakistan we don't have to do this, we buy new cell phone when we give our old phone to poor people which keep a gun on our forehead, how generous we are.

  37. I have a weird obsession of restoring phones the way it was, if it’s completely dead I use that sorta thing with phones and then you get like a small refund. But electronics are meant to be used until their completely dead, like dead.

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