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Hold onto your digital devices!

Resist buying - Take care of your devices - Buy second hand - Repair and recycle

Electronic waste is a growing problem across the world. Every year an estimated 2 million tonnes of electronic and electrical equipment is discarded by householders and companies in the UK.

Resist the temptation of the latest shiny object! The simplest way to reduce it is to use only the number of devices you need, and extend the life of your digital devices. Extending the life of your electronic devices is the most important thing you can do to reduce your impact linked to your digital life. The production phase accounts for around 80% of the lifecycle carbon emissions of mobile devices (at least for this iPhone, supposed to be made with better material). Using a computer for 4 years instead of 2 improves your environmental footprint by 50%.

Take care of your devices. Install antivirus software, clean from dust and keep dry.

Take time to make the right decision before buying a new laptop, phone, tablet, doorbell, earplugs, speakers, headset. Use the decision tree presented in the first section, and check if you could do without this purchase – which will become waste soon enough.

  • Will this add value to my life? Why do I want this? Could you do without it?

  • Can I borrow it instead – especially if it is just for a short-term use?

  • Can I buy it second hand? CeX, MusicMagpie, Amazon, eBay and other platforms offer 1-to-2-year warranty for refurbished items. Prices are great. For phones, you can also check the telcos themselves, such as GiffGaff.

  • Can you buy the most eco-friendly option? Check the different alternatives and select one that makes the best effort to limit its impact on the planet – in terms of production and consumption. For phones, a Fairphone? For printers, buy one with individual color tanks that you can change independently.

Think before you bin it. If your device no longer fit the bill:

  • Try to repair it or find someone who can fix it.

  • Can you donate it – if it is still in working order? Donating your unwanted computer equipment to a charity is a great way to help others. For some charities it is important that the equipment is in good working order; however other groups, such as WEEECharity, have technicians who can repair them. Check for any instruction manuals, cables or accessories that you could donate with it. If you are also providing software with your computer, make sure you include the software licence and any installation CDs. Ensure that your personal data is removed from your computer before you pass it on or recycle it.

  • Can you recycle it? Check here to see where to bring your devices to be recycled – or just contact for WEEECharity free collection. Make sure that you permanently delete all files and programs on your computer’s hard-drive and remove your personal data to reduce the risk of it being used by someone else.

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