Taking action against the growing e-waste problem

2 min read

Martin Aasa

BY Martin Aasa Nov, 9, 2021

This article covers our experience with our first "Concise remondikohvik" event where we learned about how to take better care of the devices that we rely on for work and what to keep in mind when attempting repairs. This was followed up with a practical hands-on session where everyone got the opportunity to try this out on an actual computer. Here's the story of how it all went.

In our previous blog post about being green in a fast-paced tech environment, we explained how much e-waste we truly generate and what are some effective measures to fight against it. Taking our own advice, we did just that. So, what did we do?

The name of our event “Remondikohvik” (repair café in English) is fairly self-explanatory, but not only did we want to help people repair some older tech, we also wanted to teach the basics of computer maintenance.

Why did we do that?

Our goal was to convey why equipment maintenance is important; how much e-waste can be avoided if you manage to use your devices for just one year longer; how simple it actually is to do basic maintenance; and finally what tools and precautions are needed for this endeavor. We had two groups of people who participated. The first group received older laptops that had been collecting dust in Concise, and the second group of people brought their own computers to the event. It was really fun and encouraging to see people bring their own personal laptops to practice maintenance on. Not only did they get to enjoy great pizza, but also managed to extend the useful lifetime of their own computers, win-win!

What are the main take-aways?

I mentioned the two different groups of people we had. The first group that got company provided computers finished a full maintenance within 30 minutes. That time was spent removing the back panel, taking out the cooling system, removing dust from the fan, replacing the thermal paste, learning how to switch out the SSD, RAM and the battery.

The second group that brought their older consumer-grade computers spent about 3 hours from start to finish on the same task. The cause is simple: their computers were not designed for ease of maintenance. You had to disassemble the whole computer, keep track of all the screws and put it all back together correctly, and then take it apart again when you discover that one small cable was not properly attached, which actually happened :’(

For me personally, the time and effort difference we saw with the two different groups is the biggest surprise. Business laptops today are built to be much more easily maintainable than their older consumer counterparts. I had genuinely forgotten how complicated they used to be and have definitely been taking the new design for granted.

Overall, I'm very happy that there are still manufacturers who put emphasis on the ease of maintenance. At the same time we have to make sure that it doesn't stop here and that we move towards a more repair-friendly future where anyone can replace any component in their computer with ease.

If you want to influence the way that your devices get designed, then support companies that put emphasis on the ease of repair and maintenance. For example, Framework and Fairphone have both designed devices that are a breeze to repair.