IFIXIT

iFixit is a wiki-based site that teaches people how to fix their electronic devices to extend their useful life, thereby reducing demand for new devices, while also reducing the waste stream. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: iFixit provides step-by-step guidance with videos and detailed photos, so even the uninitiated can navigate the inner workings of their electronic device.

    MORE INFORMATION: https://www.ifixit.com/


    Collections: BEST PRACTICES, PREVENTION, REUSE


    THE PROBLEM

    Many people don't know that electronics have all kinds of nasty chemicals in them. For example, the glass in a typical CRT has about ten pounds of lead in it. Most flat panel displays contain significant amounts of mercury. Plastic cases come coated with fire-resistant chemicals called poly-brominated flame retardants, some of the nastiest chemicals around. You can't just throw those kind of chemicals into a landfill because they contaminate soils and leach into the water supply.

    To recycle electronics properly, you must carefully disassemble them and separate out each type of material. The raw materials can then be safely used to make new products. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen as often as you'd think. Many of the electronics that we think are "recycled" are simply shipped to the third world. Why? It turns out that it's expensive to recycle e-waste properly. It's expensive because the process is labor-intensive, and it's expensive because environmental laws require e-recyclers to use environmentally friendly processes.

    But labor is cheap in the developing world. And environmental laws and enforcement don't exist everywhere. Containers full of outdated electronics are regularly shipped to places like China and Nigeria where people scrounge through the dead electronics looking for bits and pieces that are useful. After scavengers pick out the worthwhile bits, 'extractors' start breaking things apart, harvesting copper from wires and gold from electrical connectors. But without environmentally friendly processes, the chemicals from the extraction process seeps into the groundwater and remnant broken electronic scrap litter the landscape.

     

    THE SOLUTION

    Things break. You drop your iPod, trip over your Mac's power cord, or your display wears out. Wear and tear is normal, but throwing away almost-functional devices shouldn't be. iFixit’s goal is to provide people with everything they need to fix things themselves.

    iFixit is a wiki-based site that teaches people how to fix almost anything. Anyone can create a repair manual for a device, and anyone can also edit the existing set of manuals to improve them. Their site empowers individuals to share their technical knowledge with the rest of the world.

    Maintaining and repairing devices dramatically improves their usable lifespan. If we worked together and doubled the length of time the average piece of electronics was used, we could halve the amount of e-waste created. If we take care of our devices and fix them when they break, we can do a lot better than that.

    Here's two quick things that you can do:

    • Take the IFIXIT repair pledge and promise to repair your things instead of tossing them away.
    • Learn more about the e-waste problem and then speak to a local group about how fixing things can be part of the solution.

     

    ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

    While self-repair with iFixit extends the life of a device, repairs can also be sought from professional electronic services. Working devices can also be donated for reuse, thereby extending the life of the device and the materials embedded in the device.

     

    CASE STUDY EXAMPLES

    See https://www.ifixit.com/ and use the search engine to find repair guides for thousands of electronic devices.

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