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Every gadget has a story. A new publication from Medium about consumer technology.

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Tech Shortcuts for Life

Save money, reduce consumption, and support local businesses

Tech Shortcuts for Life is a weekly column from Thomas Smith on Debugger exploring the apps, automation, gadgets, and other tech tricks that can make your life more efficient.

In 2019, my family and I challenged ourselves to reduce the amount of trash we threw away with the goal of getting as close to zero waste as possible. Despite being a family of three at the time — and cooking about 30 meals per week for family and members of our community — we leveraged tech and used simple shortcuts and hacks to reduce our landfill waste from 96 gallons…


An elegant solution for an issue that’s hard to stomach

Global food waste is happening on an insane scale. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that food loss at the retail and consumer levels is around 31%. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there were 103 million tons (81.4 billion pounds) of food waste generated in America in 2017. That equates to between 30%–40% of the food supply, and $161 billion in monetary cost — a figure that’s hard to stomach.

Pela, a company that makes “everyday products without everyday waste,” including the world’s first fully compostable phone case, have set their sights on the world…


The new Teracube 2e is a sustainable smartphone and a glimpse of a better future for accessories

Imagine the cheapest possible smartphone you can buy that’s brand new. Given that low barrier, what would you be able to do with it? Would the experience be frustrating or simply average? Would you gain some benefits with that minimalist sheen that you might not find otherwise?

I found myself pondering these questions around the Teracube 2e, a device promoted on Indiegogo as a sustainable, repairable device. When I found it, the lowest available price on Indiegogo was $99; currently, the suggested price is $200. At either price, the Teracube 2e is cheap enough to be considered a commodity.

But…


Not everything needs a battery

Anne Marie Green is a Right to Repair campaign associate for U.S. PIRG, an advocacy organization.

Even in an age of smart technology, some electronics are simply dumb. We cannot and should not consider everything with a lithium battery and an LCD screen a work of genius — or even a worthwhile contribution to society, especially when it’s eventually bound for the garbage bin. We consume too much stuff: Electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on the planet. Not only is e-waste abundant, but due to the heavy metals and plastics inside, it’s also dangerous. E-waste accounts for 70%


Dear Omar

Take my dead batteries… please

It’s a nightmare where I’m drowning in a sea of dead and dying batteries. I am adrift in a pile of Duracells and Energizers and Evereadys and Rayovacs and Panasonics (do they still make those?), roiling together as a vast metallic sea. The batteries are old and corroding, and I fear that their ranks will keep growing and the acid will melt me, so I swim against the D and C and AA and AAA cells, trying to call to the mainland, warning them that ruin is coming to their shores.

Nobody listens, and when I wake up, my house…


Though the company is making environmental advances, manufacturing new phones is still destructive

The new iPhone 12 Pro
The new iPhone 12 Pro

Apple’s new product lineup — four different models of iPhone 12, between the normal, “Pro,” and “Mini” variants — are rolling out starting this week. When they were announced during a customary press event, the company made sure to spotlight their environmental bona fides.

In a sleek two and a half minute overview, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives, explained that the iPhone 12 uses more recyclable materials than past models, including 100% recycled rare earth metals in its magnets. The phone’s carbon footprint is a bit lighter, too, thanks to Apple’s ongoing effort to decarbonize…


And what it says about the problems with trusting your smartphone camera

If you live on the West Coast and woke up yesterday morning to our aggressively orange, smoke-tinged, apocalypse sky, you may have thought “Wow, this needs to be on Instagram.

But when you stepped outside with your phone to capture some pics to scare your East Coast friends, you were probably disappointed. A sky that appeared horrifically Martian in reality looked washed out and white-ish on your phone.

Why is that? The reason comes down to how your phone captures images. But even deeper than that, it comes down to something physical and fundamental: the color of white light.

If…

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