Thoughts about kicking my conspicuous consumption habit
A few days ago, I saw a news article that said iPhone users now wait four years to upgrade their devices. I can relate to that as my iPhone 6S+ is now into its fourth year. Despite being a gadget-lover, I delayed upgrading because of the tear-inducing prices of iPhones in India. An iPhone XS Max (64GB) that’s $1099 in US is almost 50% pricier in India at $1545 (₹1,09,900).
However, people rarely do things because of a single reason. My other reason for delaying the upgrade is another snippet of news that I came across on the net. We are currently generating 40,000,000 tons of e-waste, every year.
Seems that’s like throwing out 800 laptops every single second. Ouch!
I couldn’t help feeling guilty. Just yesterday, I packed up a bunch of old DVDs to throw away as everything is available online these days. The last time I owned a DVD player was nearly eight years ago. Come to think of it, I’ve no idea where that player disappeared. Probably joined the huge pile of e-waste generated by yours truly. The day before, it was an old set-top box that became obsolete when the TV signal went digital. A week before, I disconnected my mother’s old landline. That’s two handsets and a bunch of telephone cables headed for the bin, and that’s not counting the two long looping cables dangling off the roof that lead to the telephone pole on the road. This morning, it was four rechargeable AA batteries that had died. In short, every other day, I’m contributing to the world’s mounting e-waste problem.
So what led to my enlightenment?
How many gadgets is too many gadgets?
Last weekend, I was staying over at a friend’s farm in the hills when something came up, and I had to rush back. On reaching home, I found my travel gadget-bag was missing two gadgets: a power bank and the portable hotspot to which I had connected it. I recalled leaving it outdoors in order to pick up the faint cellular signal in the hills. Fortunately, the rainy season hasn’t begun in India but I still had to make a 45-minute drive the next evening to retrieve my stuff.
Driving is thinking the time for me as my brain is relatively free of the distraction of my usual multitasking. So that’s how this question popped up in my mind.
What kind of person carries a travel gadget-bag with so much in it that he misplaces two gadgets, and doesn’t even notice he has misplaced them?
The answer was uncomfortably obvious. It’s a guy who has too many gadgets!
I took a closer look at my travel gadget-bag. Not counting my iPhone and iPad, there were a whole lot of assorted cables (lightning & USB) in varying sizes, three chargers, a couple of pen drives, a flash card, an OTG connector, a wifi range extender, a set of iPhone attach-on lens, an Android phone, an Echo Dot, a bluetooth speaker, a Bluetooth headset, and random adapters and dongles. Once upon a time, the only gadget I would have had on me was a camera.
Too many gadgets, and no two ways about it!
Stop consuming, start recycling
I have been talking about being environment-friendly. But I need to put my money where my mouth is. Ideally, I should get rid of all my gadgets, and go back to reading books and newspapers. However, giving away my expensive gadgets is a bit too much to ask of myself. But all of us can delay acquiring additional gadgets, cut down on our conspicuous consumption habits, and recycle our existing gadgets for a few extra years. That will give Mother Nature some respite from our constant ravaging of her resources.
Time to disagree with Amy Winehouse, and go to gadget rehab.
What I’m going to do is audit all my electronic devices, see if I can avoid buying more of the same. My goal is to try to make up for all my years of generating electronic waste, and cut down or delay my consumption. It’s the least I can do for my e-waste contributions to our long-suffering planet. So here goes.