I was shocked to discover that each year millions of tons of used gadgets wind up in a bottom draw after only a relatively short time of use.
There’s no escaping that we live in a vibrant consumer economy, and this is no bad thing – those of us who desire today’s most popular gadgets help drive the economy forward.
The problem is that electronics products which still have significant value and usability are finding their way into the bottom draw instead of being returned to the marketplace for resale to someone who is perfectly happy with last years model. After all, it works perfectly well and does the same job.
Instead, a mountain of unused electronics lay idle, eventually becoming too old to be of any use to a potential buyer.
Imagine you bought a new car and left the old one sitting in your garage until it’s value diminished to nothing.
In reality you’d sell it – because the sooner you do the more value you’ll get – this is just as true for gadgets like iPods, cell phones, digital cameras, console games and computers – more and more of these products end up in the bottom draw when they could be sold and re-used before their time is up.
eBay has gone a long way in expanding the second hand market and makes it easier for consumers to sell on their used electronics. But its impact has been relatively small compared to the rising tide of productivity within the electronics industry.
Consumers should be able to sell on their used electronics as readily as they can buy the upgrade – like a car dealership who’ll readily accept your old car in the same transaction. It spares you the hassle of selling it yourself.
So shouldn’t the electronics industry work in the same way?
Well, to some extent it does - GameStop for example, will accept your old gaming console and games as trade ins. However, they give you a faction of the amount you could have gotten on eBay or Craigslist. But not everyone enjoys trawling through the buyers and sellers trying to get a deal – some of us are just too busy – or lazy.
If trading in was made easier, and fairer in terms of the value you received, fewer electronics would end up in a bottom draw. The sad truth is that if you don’t get intrinsic pleasure from the eBay experience and you don’t feel the profit is worth your time and energy, your old gadgets will end up in the bottom draw for some time to come.