Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A sad reflection of the Western throwaway culture

My printer went on the blink recently. It required a new printer head apparently, so I asked around to see what I could do to get it up and running again. Turns out, it's not cost-effective to repair printers. When I spoke to a guy from PC World (where I originally bought it) he said they don't fix them – they just replace them if they're within warranty. I contacted a few random companies that appeared on a Google search and they either never got back to me or said they couldn't help.

It's not like I was trying to get a printer repaired that I'd had for several years which has finally croaked after a long and faithful service. This thing is two years old. It was new, state-of-the-art and had been used fairly lightly.

Printers, it seems, are highly disposable items. But they're not like plastic spoons or paper cups. These things are incredibly sophisticated machines consisting of hundreds of parts, and the only real purpose they serve is to help companies flog us overpriced ink.

Like smartphones or computers, they are a marvel of the technological age and can be found in most homes. These black or beige little boxes which sit in a corner of our homes (the 'home office' no less) have a capability only dreamed of a few decades ago: full colour, photo quality printing and photocopying at virtually no cost. And yet, these things fall apart in no time and get easily replaced by an equally wonderful marvel of technology for the same (if not less) price.

Whilst our local waste centre takes electronic goods, I doubt my Canon MG6350 will be separated into its constituent parts and recycled. I can't quite imagine some dude sitting in a factory unit somewhere, pulling the thing to pieces in order to recycle the wires, plastic and glass (even though that would be a good idea). It will most likely go into landfill or get shipped abroad to pollute some poor third world country.

I tried to recycle it (well, freecycle it if that's a genuine word) by offering it to friends, but given the fact that the cost of repairing it is probably the same as buying a brand new printer off the shelf, it isn't surprising no one took me up on the offer.

So there you have the dilemma. I really don't want to pollute the planet. I have a perfectly decent piece of technology that just needs a spare part to make it work again, but it's prohibitively expensive and impractical to do so.

What to do?

A friend on Facebook suggested I convert it into some kind of receptacle for growing plants and you know, I just might try that...

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