New gadgets push old ones to the trash

Out with the old, in with the new: Upgrading to newer gadgets


Michael Teti, A 24-year-old applied Science Masters student at the University of Toronto, sits by his laptop every year around mid-September refreshing his page in an attempt to pre-order Apple’s newest iPhone.

“Every model is slightly different and I’m always finding out about upcoming features the next one has,” says Teti. “In a way, I feel like I’m a test dummy for Apple’s new phones, all my friends usually decide if they are getting them by testing mine out.”

Apple has released a phone annually since 2007 and have consumers like Teti dishing out their money. Time and time again they disposing of their old phones that quickly diminish in value.

Michael Waldman, a marketing professor at Cornell University in New York, believes that top end firms are just maximizing their profit.

“You can make a good obsolete by introducing a new version of the product. Of course, they’re going to introduce a new product over time. Their incentive to do that is too high from the standpoint of the firm’s own profit,” says Waldman.

“If I sold you a product and you owned this new unit and I come around and invent this new version of the product which will make the value of what you own go down.”

Teti believes the constant release of tech works well for big companies due to the upbringing of our society.

“We are taught that having things will make us happy. I think just one person needs to buy into the latest fads and that fake notion of owning makes us happy can spread pretty quickly.”

How damaging can society’s obsession with tech be to the environment and ourselves?

Up to 90 per cent of the world’s electronic waste is dumped each year. Photo by Joe Amodio

According to the UN environment program up to 90 per cent of the world’s electronic waste is dumped each year. Clayton Miller, vice president of Toronto based electronic recycling company Shift Recycling knows the type of damage colossal amounts of discarded tech can do to the environment.

“Electronics don’t decompose in a landfill so putting them there means they will be there forever. It can pose particular problems when electronics contain [heavy] metals like mercury and lead which is common in pretty much every monitor or TV,” says Miller.

Shift Recycling gives people an option to dispose his phones in a manner that is safe for the environment.

“Shift Recycling processes everything here in the GTA and we do it to the highest standard through manual and mechanical processing,” says Miller.

Teti says he doesn’t use any e-waste method when throwing out his phones or obsolete devices.

“I just kind of throw it out. Not many people know about throwing out your tech in the garbage the right way. I don’t.”

While millennials cycling through their tech has more of an impact abroad, there are greater risks with our increased obsession with everyday devices that hit closer to home.

Doctor James A. Roberts a marketing professor at Baylor University in Texas and author of Too Much of a Good Thing, a book about the increasing number of people addicted to their smartphones.

“When someone looks at their smartphone they will see that it can negatively affect their well-being, examples are stress, anxiety, depression, personal relationship and productivity at school or work,” says Roberts. “If your phone use causes conflict or you have tried to stop but can’t you’re likely addicted to your smartphone.”

Apple has released a phone annually since 2007 and has consumers dishing out their money. Photo by Joe Amodio

If you’re already addicted to a smartphone device Roberts suggests above all to seek a mental health specialist but provides helpful solutions that he calls “hair of the dog” and “high-tech shaming” amongst other methods of approaching the addiction alone.

“Download an app that will monitor and restrict your smartphone use. It’s using technology against itself. Having other people know your smart phone use habits can be enough to turn it around,” says Roberts. “You can also set up smartphone free times where smartphone use is prohibited.”

Teti does not believe he is addicted to his smartphone but does admit to using it often.

“Smartphones have the ability to do so much. I can use my phone to help me stay organized at school I can use it to play games, I can pretty much make use of it no matter what I’m doing,” says the applied science student.


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