Fix Broken Gadgets Yourself with Help from iFixit.com

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Consumers can send fewer phones to landfills by repairing them instead of upgrading. Photo: iFixit

Consumers can send fewer phones to landfills by repairing them instead of upgrading. Photo: iFixit

A cracked iPhone screen doesn’t have to mean that you need to buy a brand-new replacement.

While incentives from cellphone service providers make it tempting to upgrade every year or two, repairing old devices can do wonders for your wallet — and the environment.

That’s because it’s difficult to fully recycle electronics. Often, the gadgets are actually shipped to other continents where their valuable parts are harvested. Chemicals released during this process can contaminate local soil and water supplies, and unsalvageable materials end up in landfills.

If consumers double the length of time they use their gadgets, the amount of e-waste created could be cut by 50 percent.

iFixit aims to curtail this harmful cycle by providing free DIY repair manuals for everything from phones and household appliances to game consoles and cars.

It was founded in 2003 by Luke Soules and Kyle Wiens, engineering students at California Polytechnic State University at the time. The idea behind iFixit came about when Wiens couldn’t find the repair guide he needed to fix his iBook.

“I knew there was a service manual, and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t online,” says Wiens. “Apple was … [preventing] people from being able to fix their machines.”

After a bit of a struggle and lots of frustration, he figured out how to fix the computer. Then he decided to write his own repair manual for it and to make this one available on the Internet. “The nice thing about being young and stupid is you don’t know what’s not possible,” Wiens adds.

The repair manual received 10,000 hits during its first weekend online.

Next page: Why We Need to Fix Electronics Instead of Tossing Them

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