A British phone repair company is setting up tiny shops in London’s iconic red telephone booths. This could encourage people to try to fix their smartphones before buying new ones.
Red telephone booths are probably one of Britain’s most well-known landmarks, along with Big Ben and Tower Bridge. But their charm and popularity with tourists does not save them from what awaits most telephone booths nowadays: obsolescence.
A lot of people cannot remember the last time they used a phone booth. In Berlin, Germany, many of them now serve as wifi hotspots.
Lovefone, a phone repair company, decided to give London’s telephone boxes a second chance at relevance by converting them into tiny repair shops for mobile phones.
Customers can get their iPhones or Google Nexus phones fixed in less than half an hour. In addition to having access to repair services, clients can charge their smartphones for free.
By making phone repair accessible and appealing, Lovefone is doing more than just giving red telephone booths a new life. Mobile phones are complex technical objects which contain valuable metals, but they are much too often treated like disposable gadgets. On average, Americans change their phone every 18.2 months, and that use period is consistently decreasing.
Discarded mobile phones should be handled with care as they contain toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. Nonetheless, they often end up in landfills, where they represent a toxic hazard and can pollute groundwater. In many cases, this e-waste (electronic waste) is dumped in developing countries, letting already vulnerable people deal with the environmental consequences of our consumer culture.
Illegal e-waste dumping is a major and complex issue which will probably take years to solve and require the cooperation of the international community. In the meantime, consumers can still help by taking care of the electronics in their possession. Instead of reaching for the newest, shiniest smartphone at the first problem with your current smartphone, why not take it to a repair shop? You will save money and delay the disposal of your phone. And when your phone does reach the end of its life, make sure to dispose of it properly.
The first Lovefonebox opened on Greenwich High Street on 16 August 2016. Lovefone is planning to open a total of 35 boxes in London by the end of 2017.