CLEVELAND — The holiday season is here and tech devices are a popular item on many wish lists, but there might still be a lot of life left in your old cell phone, according to a northeast Ohio repair advocate.
Growing up in a rural area, Chris Bennett often had to find a way to fix things with his own hands.
“Coming from a family of woodworkers and mechanics came in handy because I was never too shy to tear stuff apart,” he said.
He said putting the pieces together has shaped a big part of his life.
“If you can’t repair something, you don’t really own it,” Bennett said.
He’s the membership coordinator for the Akron Makerspace, a nonprofit empowering people to learn hands-on skills, from creating crafts to making repairs.
“Your typical cell phone, the environmental cost of making a new one from whole cloth is about 40 years of use to break even on that,” he said.
Right now in Ohio, he said there isn’t a “right to repair” law on the books.
The law is intended to give consumers they need to repair their current devices versus feeling forced to buy a new product or upgraded version.
A House bill was introduced in June, strongly backed by President Joe Biden, that would have made all manufacturers make the equipment available “for the purposes of diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of such equipment, to independent repair providers or owners of such digital electronic equipment manufactured by or on behalf of, or sold or otherwise supplied by the original equipment manufacturer.”
All 50 states have proposed their own version of a "right to repair" law, but only Massachusetts has made it law, according to the BBC.
“This stuff can live so much longer than we’ve let it,” Bennett said. “We’ve got landfills full of perfectly functional equipment.”
Early in November, Apple announced they’ll be making parts, tools and manuals available early next year for individuals to fix their own phones.
“I want to see every phone manufacturer, every device manufacturer follow this lead, but I also want to see strong protections and mandates,” he said.
Bennet said a good guide would be following the road map used by the automotive industry.
“We don’t replace our cars just because they need new brakes or an oil change,” he said.