Tuesday, 17 September 2019 17:32

Spring cleaning your tech: Aussies struggling to 'split with their stuff'


Mobile phone recycling organisation MobileMuster has released new research revealing that 68% of Australians "struggle to get rid of their things, despite 58% no longer using them because they feel attached to them, with old electronic devices and mobile phones high on the list of things people find hard to part with".

Want to help the Salvation Army while doing a spring clean of all your unused and out-of-date phones, still sitting in a drawer as a backup phone that is now too old to be securely used as a backup?

MobileMuster is partnering with the Salvation Army in September, and for every mobile phone recycled by MobileMuster this month, they will give $1 to Salvos Stores to support the great work they do in your local community, with details here.

There are over 3500 collection points across Australia, with a free recycling satchel or mailing label that you can find out more about here.

But what about the new research showing just how hard it is for some of us to part with our old tech, even when it is too old to do anyone any good save for being recycled properly, kept out of landfill, and used to create new tech?

Well, MobileMuster's research shows that "this struggle to let go of things, once useful or valued, is contributing to Australians feeling stressed due to clutter building up in their homes. Whilst most of us tend to hold on to unused belongings with a fear of missed opportunities to reuse them, this fear is irrational as the results show Australians rarely reuse the items again".

We're told that "Australians’ inability to say goodbye to certain things that they once found useful or valued is contributing to a build up of stuff in Australian households, with nearly 9 in 10 Australians feeling like their old things are cluttering their homes, according to research commissioned by MobileMuster, Australia’s government accredited mobile phone recycling program.

"The findings show that the struggle to let go of things no longer needed is causing more than half of Australians to feel annoyed at themselves (58%), despite the vast majority of people (89%) admitting that they would feel happier if they could get rid of their old things".

Professor of Psychology Mike Kyrios, Flinders University, said: "This research shows that keeping hold of things that we no longer need or use can be stressful because not only does it clutter our homes, but our old things often weigh us down mentally as our things act as reminders of our former self which can actually stop people from feeling free and living in the present.

“Psychology tells us that many of us have an inner conflict between feeling attached to our things because we have spent time using and enjoying them but when it comes to letting go of them we can struggle as we find it hard to detach ourselves from them, despite knowing that we will feel happier and freer if we let them go.”

Then we're told that "when it comes to the things that we struggle most to let go of, clothes and shoes top the list, closely followed by old electronics and mobile phones, with 63% of Australians admitting that they find it hard to get rid of these things. With electronic waste (e-waste) growing at three times the rate of general waste in Australia and 25 million old mobile phones stored away in drawers across the country, being able to disconnect from old electronic devices is an issue that needs addressing.

"The research showed that people have strong attachments to their mobile phones more than any other electronic device. However, when people move on to using a new phone, one in three Australians struggle to get rid of their old phones because they want to keep it as back up, despite 73% of people never going back to using it. The majority of Australians (three in four) that have got rid of the old one admit that they haven’t missed it."

Professor Kyrios continued: “We know that many people struggle to part ways with their old things because of FOMO – or a Fear Of Missed Opportunities, which often leaves us holding on to things in case we need to use them again, but in reality, we never do, and they just clutter our space. At this time of year we know that people want to do a spring clean and create more space in their homes, so it’s the perfect time to flip this FOMO on its head and consider the benefits of letting go by clearing our homes and creating a cleaner and freer way to live.”

MobileMuster reminds us that "September marks the start of spring cleaning season with 78% of Australians intending to declutter their homes this year. The majority of people (83%) express that they are more likely to declutter if they knew their old stuff would be recycled or were going towards something positive (88%), like a charity.

"The research shows that 9 in 10 Australians agree that getting rid of old or unused items would make them feel happier and freer in life. Now is the time for Australians to act and do something positive with their unused household items. Reusing or recycling these items is good for our health, our homes and the environment."

Spyro Kalos, Manager of MobileMuster said: "We know that people want to let go of their old things but sometimes need a little extra motivation to help them make the final break, so this September, we’ve partnered with the Salvos Stores to encourage more Australians to kick off their spring clean and dig out their old mobile phones for recycling. For every mobile phone collected by MobileMuster this month we will give $1 to Salvos Stores to support the great work they do in your local community.”

Here are more of the key findings from MobileMuster's research:

  • Majority of Australians (88.1%) feel like their old and unused things are cluttering their home / space
  • Most Australians (68.3%) have struggled to get rid of things that they own despite no longer using them
  • 1 in 4 Australians (24.7%) struggle to get rid of their old mobile phones
  • Australians (39.1%) struggle to get rid of things they no longer use because they used to find it useful and may do again
  • 1 in 4 Australians (26.5%) struggle the most to get rid of things they no longer use because they feel attached to them as they remind them of happier times / good memories
  • 1 in 5 Australians (20.9%) struggle the most to get rid of things they no longer use because they used to find it useful and may do again
  • Most Australians (58%) feel frustrated or annoyed at themselves for holding on to things they no longer need
  • 1 in 3 Australians (31.4%) feel stressed or weighed down by holding on to things they no longer need
  • Majority of Australians (88.7%) say their home could benefit from a de-clutter or spring clean
  • Most Australians (58.5%) admit they have held on to a particular thing for emotional/attachment reasons, despite no longer using it
  • Most Australians (63.6%) of Australians struggle to get rid of their old electronics and mobile phones
  • 2 in 5 Australians (42.1%) say they struggle to let go of their mobile phones
  • More Australians admit to having an emotional attachment to their old mobile phones over any other electronic item as 34.6% admit they have an emotional attachment to their old and unused mobile phones
  • Most Australians (73%) have never used their old mobile phones that they have held on to (in the last two years) with 53.9% think the phones still work while 19.4% believe it is broken or have lost the charger / plug so that it cannot work
  • Most Australians do not miss their old phones with 73.8% saying they would not miss their old mobile phones if they got rid of them and 75% stating they would have not missed their old mobile phone once they got rid of it
  • Majority of Australians (82.1%) would make more effort to get rid of their old / unused things if they knew it would make them happier
  • Majority of Australians (89.2%) agree that getting rid of their old and unused things would make them feel happier and freer in life
  • Most Australians (77.9%) intend to do a spring clean this year

MobileMuster reminds us that "Australians can recycle their old mobile phones and accessories at their local Salvos store or drop them off at one of MobileMuster’s 3,500 collection points across the country. Alternatively they can be posted back to MobileMuster using a free recycling satchel, available at Australia Post or the MobileMuster website.

"Everything collected by MobileMuster is recycled for the circular economy. Through the program, 99% of the material from old phones and accessories are recovered and used in manufacturing new products, reducing the need for virgin materials. All the metal, glass and plastic in your mobile phone has the potential for a second life."

More information at MobileMuster here


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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