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Don’t buy new gadgets. Used or refurbished is just smarter—and greener

A couple of years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop buying new phones.

While I used to always stay on the cutting edge when choosing a new iPhone or Android phone, I realized that buying used or refurbished devices made more sense. These days, one- or two-year-old phones aren’t much different from the latest models, and buying them second-hand lets you save money without getting locked into long-term wireless carrier contracts.

Buying used or refurbished tech also helps make a tiny dent in the world’s e-waste problems. By purchasing an older device, you’re delaying its journey to the scrap heap and reducing demand for new products. The idea seems to be catching on; a survey from February commissioned by Backmarket found that 25% of people listed environmental reasons for buying refurbished gear, up from 16% in May 2019.

For me, the used phone lifestyle has been working out pretty well. I’ve been able to bounce between a few different phones before selling them back into the used market, and I never have to get AT&T involved with activation. (Instead, I just move my SIM card from one unlocked phone to the next.) Besides, with companies like Apple and Samsung facing supply issues amid an ongoing chip shortage, buying used could become easier than getting what’s new.

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