Maximally reuse old products

2023-03-17 @Lifestyle

I like to extract maximum life from objects. The practice conserves the environment. The practice alleviates expenses. The practice fosters creativity. The practice feels stimulating, responsible and rewarding.

You don’t have to be a do-it-yourself, electronics, carpentry, hacker, handyman, alchemist, kabbalist all-in-one wiz to exercise the basics either.

Old computers or old tablets, if not fit for all purposes, surely for much: any text manipulation, simple-web navigation, development, multimedia and anything terminal-oriented. Especially with a lightweight Unix-based OS.

I recently replaced the magnetic hard-drive with a solid state in my old Lenovo x130e. Could no longer count on the old drive. Risk of failure. Performance bottleneck. With the bottleneck eradicated, the laptop now functions as good as new. But how many would rather scrap and purchase a new, and I mean brand-newly manufactured device for whatever cost they incur nowadays?

Android tablets are trickier. However stripped down, the Android layer does not manifest the lightweightiness of a native Linux machine. I travel with a newer, 2020 model. But my oldest tablet dates eleven years now; another, ten-years and running. Still good for terminal interaction via Termux. But a lot of these native android apps, including the open-source F-Droid counterparts (which it behooves you to use), are either impractically slow or demand a certain Android version beyond the stock limitations. Which means a custom ROM. Which means a fair amount of fiddling. But hey, we’re speaking of 10+ year-old devices.

Tablet batteries are replaceable. And I get tons of life out of even these old (original) tablet batteries by the mere virtue of deactivating the WiFi short of necessary.

And if you managed to purpose a modular Raspberry PI unit into a practical working machine (a feat I never attained): you’re set for eternity, considering the modularity and the ease of individual component replacement.

I owe a pair of huge, over-year headphones whose leather exterior had all but perished. Every application would cover my ears and temples in strips of torn leather. I guess in someone that might trigger the urge for a replacement. I could’ve found and ordered replacement ear pads off the Chinese market, but didn’t even feel up to that expense. First, I simply stripped the remaining leather down to the foam surface. However not ideal, better than prior. And could’ve left it as such. But then I proceeded to cut sections of torn, thin, elastic socks to fit as comfortable ear pads.

Speaking of which, you shouldn’t just abandon clothes and fabric at the first onset of deterioration. Either mend or repurpose for alternate use - or even cleaning rags: anything preferable to the waste basket.

Don’t throw stuff away. And don’t make purchases that would later incite waste byproduct. Think in advance.

That also means simpler tools of simpler, ideally modular mechanics. The more mechanical components, the greater risk of failure, the shorter the lifespan, the greater the expense, the greater the waste.

When it comes to technology, aesthetics should be the least concern. If it works, don’t fix it, don’t replace it. Apply minimal home remedies to address any annoyances: duct tape, used fabric, glue, soldering iron, valerian ointment.

For effectively non-perishable objects such as books or notebooks, there’s hardly need to ever purchase new. I fill old notebooks to the rim even if the contents span diverse periods and subjects. But indispensable that you label and index for seamless access.

Fashion new notebooks DYI. For thinner bindings suffices to cut and fold a bunch of larger sheets to preferable size and staple. I thus improvised a few grid notebooks out of larger grid paper. For thicker bindings you might require some needle/thread work.

Anyway, these are mere alternatives. I prefer such hacked-together solutions to the waste byproduct of new purchasing, however financially insignificant. And to purchase pompous products for something as ancient as writing?

If you have old glasses of still satisfactory prescription, have some optometrist fix up the flaky frame to attain extra years of life. One of my pairs is now 14 years ongoing and still has some sturdiness.

Old car. I don’t own any cars. But were that the case (which I struggle to imagine outside the rural desert plains or the pastoral Arcadia), it may as well be some old, cheap, and hopefully semi-reliable beast of burden.

Any further suggestions? I lately struggle to conceive beyond the limited range of my use cases.

Questions, comments? Connect.