The Greenest Gadget Is The One You Already Own

The Greenest Gadget Is The One You Already Own

I wish I could pretend that the following statistic surprised me, but it didn't.  77% of people who bought the new iPhone last week were upgrading the iPhone they already had.  Apple has done the unimaginable: convinced people to throw away a perfectly good thing, in order to get a slightly newer version of that same thing.

This is an ode to my old cell phone, and to old cell phones everywhere.  

My cell phone is the Motorola RAZR, a.k.a. The "It" Phone of 2004.  I bought mine in 2005, and it was a refurb then, to boot.  I use it to make phone calls, send the occasional text message, and take the occasional cameraphone picture.  It does all of these things reliably.

Once in a while, someone tries to convince me to get something new.  It's true that I've lingered over the idea of getting a Blackberry.  I wouldn't get the data plan, obviously.  (Why pay an additional $600 a year just for the privilege of owning a Blackberry?)  But I'm intrigued by the idea of having a better camera, and of using a proper keyboard for my texts and tweets.  Poking out an SMS with the multi-function keys does get tedious.

But you know what?  My RAZR works fine.  

I like my RAZR.  I like its shape and weight, and the way it fits into my pockets just so.  I like the feel of the hinge when you snap it shut.  I like the flat keypad, which prevents crud from building up between the keys.  

By my estimation, I have saved at least $400 by keeping this RAZR, compared to what most people would have spent to upgrade their cell phone over the same time frame.  The average American upgrades their phone every 18 months, and pays an average of $100 for each upgrade.  And that's just for regular phones.  I've saved a whopping $4,500 in that time versus becoming an iPhone fan!

Best of all, I've saved the materials cost of all those new phones.  Minerals like selenium, copper, and titanium don't just grow on trees.  They are mined out of the earth at a significant cost to human lives, pollution, and the immediate surroundings.  Add the carbon footprint of shipping all those raw materials, the toxic waste produced by the surprisingly messy electronics manufacturing industry, and the carbon footprint of shipping them out.  It's not good!

From an ideological perspective, I think it's good to stick with what you've got.  Buying the latest and greatest is a habit we need to break ourselves of, if we really want to change our impact on the planet.  The short documentary "The Story of Stuff" lays this out better than I ever could.

In poking around this morning I ran across a great website that supports this effort.  Created by blogger celebrity Anil Dash, Last Year's Model celebrates the practice of holding on to perfectly good older gadgets.  This is a movement that I can really get behind!