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CREDO Tip: Buying refurbished technology to help the planet

While this Earth Week has been like none other in history, the global community has been so resourceful and resilient in finding ways to celebrate 50 years of Earth Day.

From virtual celebrations to countless online resources, activists and progressives across the planet are proving how committed we all are to slowing the climate crisis and fighting for clean air, water and a green energy economy.

Looking for more ways to help the planet this week and decrease your carbon footprint? Think about buying refurbished technology — previously owned items like tablets, cell phones and laptops that have been restored to like-new conditions, many with warranties. Not only will you save some green, but you’ll help keep the planet green, too. Here are some benefits to consider when you’re looking to buy refurb tech.

Environmentally Friendly

We all know the old refrain, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Now you can add a fourth: Refurbished.

By purchasing refurbished technology, you’re reducing your impact on the planet by quite a lot. For starters, you’re cutting the energy and resources that it takes to create that new computer or cell phone. According to a study by the United Nations, manufacturing just one desktop computer requires “48 pounds of chemicals, 1.7 tons of water, and 529 pounds of fossil fuels—about 10 times the weight of the computer itself.” The U.N. also found that while modern computers are more energy efficient, four-fifths of a computer’s lifetime energy consumption is used when the item itself is produced.

By purchasing refurbished, you’re also reducing the amount of toxic e-waste you put back into the environment. In 2016 alone, the United States generated 6.9 million tons of e-waste — 42 pounds per person — and only a tiny fraction is recycled, with most ending up in landfills. Americans throw away a staggering 416,000 cell phones every day. That’s 151.8 million cell phones ending up in the 2,500 landfills scattered across America every year, with the potential of toxic substances seeping into land and water ways. Imagine if a bigger fraction of those cell phones were fixed and refurbished!

Competitive Prices

In addition to being environmentally friendly, another big reason to consider buying refurbished technology is cost. 

Fixing, replacing parts and ensuring a gently-used product is more or less “like new” is a lot less expensive than creating a brand new product. Those savings are passed on to the consumer. When some device models cost over $1,000, the refurbished version of that same model can be a great alternative.

Digital Equity

Refurbished and reused technology can also be considered a tool for digital equity to help bridge the digital divide, the gulf between the privileged who can readily access technology and those who can’t. 

The act of buying pre-owned and refurbished technology helps break down a “culture of new,” a stigma which pervades consumer culture. Local nonprofits that serve low-income people rely on governments and corporations to donate much of its used tech to help close the digital divide, yet consumer technology (referenced above) ends up in landfills. We can do our part to help change this culture by donating our old technology and purchasing refurbished technology, too.

What To Look For 

Now that you’ve decided to buy a refurbished product, what should you look for before you make a purchase?

First, try to determine how the seller defines “refurbished.” According to Consumer Reports, different manufacturers define the term in different ways, and that has an impact on what comes inside the box. Apple sells refurbished products with new batteries, shell, charger and even a brand new box. Samsung is similar, promising original condition products with “a detailed, top-down inspection of every feature and function.” Other manufacturers or products may not come with new batteries or charging cables, so check before you purchase.

Next, try to find products that are “certified pre-owned” to ensure you’re buying a device that meets the manufacturer’s highest standard of refurbishment. Then make sure you’re covered with a warranty or service plan.

Ready to buy?

If you’re ready to help do your part to save the planet — and save some money — by purchasing a refurbished device, you’re in luck! If you’re ready to help do your part to save the planet — and save some money — by purchasing a refurbished device, you’re in luck! Shop our smartphone selection and save on a new phone while supporting progressive causes, at no extra cost to you!