Why buy second-hand tech? Protecting the planet and preventing waste

Life / Sustainability / Tech

Why buy second-hand tech? Protecting the planet and preventing waste

In recent years, more and more people are buying what they need second hand rather than new. This trend, sparked by the rising awareness of environmental issues and ethical problems in production cycles, has also led to increased demand for second-hand tech.

Nowadays, finding sustainable tech can be challenging if you’re buying new – and while there are more energy-efficient options being developed, it also takes a lot of resources to produce any new gadget.

A fast upgrade cycle society

We have become very quick to discard our current tech whenever any slightly better upgrades become available. We are so driven to the fastest, the newest, the most revolutionary gadgets that we make the switch without thinking.

Even if you’re not a tech lover or someone who buys a new iPhone whenever a new model comes out, we’ve all become so accustomed to throwing our possessions away even if they still have a lot of life in them. This means that there are many second-hand tech items on the market, many of which have been released less than half a year ago.

What does it take to make new tech?

There are several factors which keep increasing the environmental impact of new gadget manufacturing, even with many sustainable tech brands. Firstly, much of our tech is made in developing countries, where the absolute majority of electricity comes from non-renewable resources which emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Many hazardous materials are also often used, including PVC (the most environmentally damaging plastic) brominated flame retardants – both of which release toxic fumes when burnt. Phthalates, some of which can disrupt hormonal function, as well as antimony trioxide and beryllium (potential carcinogens) are often used as well.

The issue with electronic waste

However, despite the issues in supply chains, perhaps the biggest issue which we can address by buying second-hand tech is the piling up of electronic waste – the fastest-growing source of waste worldwide.

E-waste isn’t just problematic because it sits around in landfills, not degrading. The waste also often leaks many different toxic chemicals into the environment, including lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and flame retardants. As only 12.5% of electronic waste is currently recycled, buying second-hand tech and keeping it for as long as possible is one of the best things we can do for the environment.