Refresh and recycle

Refresh and recycle

Refresh and recycle

There must have been a time when you were passing by a store and the latest mobile on display caught your attention. You stopped, gazed at the phone till your eyes glazed over and then moved on, regretfully shaking your head. This is a common occurrence with everyone. But there are a few who go a step further and buy that phone after all. And then replace it after a year or even sooner, when the shiny new toy loses its charm. 

This is not an unusual situation these days. More and more youngsters are succumbing to the lure of buying the latest gadgets and in an industry where new models are churned out almost daily, this fad results in thousands of perfectly working devices being disposed in the name of fashion. And beneath these shiny devices hides an ugly problem that our country is facing — e-waste.

Says Meera Kamal, a teacher, “I understand the fascination for owning new products but this is promoting a culture of senseless consumerism. India is the fifth largest producer of e-waste globally and this is burdening our already collapsing garbage disposal system which, in any case, is woefully inadequate to meet the requirements of electronic garbage.”

The problem of e-waste is a serious concern for a country which is also the second largest market for mobile phones.

Owning the latest piece of technology is not only a fantasy but also a necessity these days, says Piyali G, a professional. “We are all living in the digital era and being up to date is a prerequisite to succeeding here. Each new model has that extra something that makes us a little faster, a little more tech savvy. Also, how you are perceived is a very big factor in how you are treated. And nothing increases your social status like the latest mobile flashing in your hand or the ultra-slim laptop placed on your desk.”

Malika Bhavnani, a professional, agrees with this. Having recently purchased a high-end mobile phone, she admits to spending a lot of money to buy this piece of technology and says, “There is a growing fascination for owning the very latest in mobile phones because phones in particular and technology in general has become an extremely essential part of our lifestyle. We are all becoming increasingly dependent on our smartphones. They are a preferred on-the-go tool for consumers to catch up on office emails, shop for anything and everything, order one’s favourite food, tap social networks or click that beautiful picture.

Hence, staying up to date with the latest trends of mobile app development and mobile phones overall has become a necessity rather than an option.”

While it is the increased functional capability of the newer models that attracts people like Malika, for some people, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is a major driving factor behind this buying spree. Teenagers and young professionals make up the main bulk of this section.

Also, Meera points out how sometimes children are given their parents’ mobile phones which makes it a perfect excuse for parents to buy a new one for themselves.

She says, “We need to find a way to ensure that devices do not go to the dump; instead they should be donated to the needy. There are many people who will gratefully take your old mobile phone because it will be their first contact with technology.”

Says Malika, “There are quite a few electronic companies that have pledged to recycle old and discarded electronic items. And I usually sell my old handsets while purchasing the new one, so it helps bring down the cost and also reduces my carbon footprint.”