Lovefonebox: the Second Calling of Red Telephone Boxes

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.

Autor*in Terri Kafyeke, 08.25.16

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. 

How E-waste and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Creating Jobs for Former Prisoners

Californian startup Isidore Electronics Recycling is turning electronic waste recycling into employment opportunities for people coming out of the criminal justice system.

Project Elpis: Carbon-Neutral Charging Stations for Mobile Phones in Refugee Camps

Refugee camps often lack a steady supply of electricity, leaving refugees unable to charge their mobile phone, keep in touch with loved ones, and find out about important information and developments. Project Elpis is helping refugees stay connected, starting with refugee camps in Greece.

Can Leafy, Sensor-equipped ‘Living Walls’ Help Make London Greener and Cleaner?

An engineering firm has constructed one of London’s first ‘living wall’ scaffolding structures on a building site. Good for air and noise pollution, as well as the local scenery, green walls are one example of sorely needed solutions to big-city pollution.

EcoGuide IT: the Electronics Buyer’s Guide for Environmentalists

EcoGuide IT contains assessments on the sustainable and technical performance of thousands of IT products. The interactive platform allows consumers to easily compare options in order to make an informed decision when purchasing electronics.

Global Achievements in Electronic Waste Management

While electronic waste is increasingly becoming a contentious issue in international relations and politics, here’s a look at initiatives in a few countries to recycle ewaste.

Electronic Waste

With the average lifespan of some electric appliances, like computers, estimated to be 3-5 years, it’s little wonder landfill areas are clogged with discarded electronics.Globally, the debate about how best to manage electronic waste continues to rage, while in many parts of the world, an informal, unregulated electronic waste trade and recycling sector is in full bloom.