Have you ever thought of doing something with your beloved old phone charger? The thing about buying new chargers is that – it is expensive and it gets old too (plus the fact that it has a shorter lifespan). In the Philippines, high-quality electronics are what most consumers prefer and purchase. This is why when the items get disposed, it is more likely to get upcycled by junk shops and make use of it. For all those who do not have any idea what is upcycling, here is a brief explanation of it.
Upcycling, in its simplest meaning, is the process of making use or converting discarded, old, and waste materials into something useful with a much better quality item. In short, it gives an item a new purpose. For instance, making buckets out of unused tires or making a chandelier out of your used wine bottles. What makes upcycling fun is the fact that you can also always use your creative juices when you decide to upcycle your old items – for this instance your old phone charger.
Aside from the given facts above, here are a few more things you need to know about upcycling:
First of all, you might wonder how upcycling is different from recycling – so here’s the thing.
Recycling is the breaking down of consumer materials (e.g. plastic, paper, metal, and glass) into a new consumer product – often of lesser quality. Upcycling, on the other hand, is not a process of breaking down anything into something, rather it is the repurposing of an item. Thus, you are only refashioning the original item into something of better quality than the original item.
Even before, upcycling has already been practiced especially from the 1930s-40s.
Those were the times when families have minimal resources, and to fill in for the things that they lack, they would reuse almost every item – repurposing them into something that they could very much make use of. They would only dispose the item once it is no longer useful. Instances of which are repurposing old doors into a dining table or feed sacks being used as dresses.
Most especially, for the modern-day upcycling – it’s environment-friendly.
As some would say, upcycling was reborn due to its positive impact on the environment. Instead of usable consumer items being disposed to dumpsites, these are being given new purpose in the society – and not just being stacks of useless materials.
However, why not just let the recyclers recycle? Recycling is also green.
While this statement may be true, recycling needs energy or water in its process of breaking down materials – unlike upcycling which only requires your creativity and physical effort to make things possible.
With all things considered regarding upcycling, why not try it out now and make use of your own old items. If you are wondering how it can be done, here is an easy tutorial of upcycling your beloved old phone charger by Martin Melchior.
Side note: Be careful with poorly-made electronics as they may cause hazardous accidents.
What you will need:
- Soldering iron and tin
- Multi-meter or multi-tester (to find positive and negative)
- Your old phone charger (CAUTION: Please make sure that the output is at least 5V and rated for at least 500 mA, also written as 0.5A)
- USB socket
- Hot glue
- Heat shrink (optional)
What you will do:
If at all possible, caution is recommended to ensure your safety and avoid any accidents during the procedure. To start with:
- The first step would be to trim the cable at about 5cm from the charger and then strip the end. If your charger has a cable protection, it is okay to remove it as it is not really necessary for the procedure.
- Using the multi-meter, find the positive (+) and the negative (-). Basically, multi-meters have two wires: one red and one black. When connecting to the charger, bear in mind to double check it. With Martin Melchior’s example, the charger he used has the red wire for GND (-), and the white one for VCC (+).
CAUTION: Some of your gadgets may fry if this is done wrong, so always double check to get the procedure right.
- At this point, you may choose where you will be placing the socket on your charger, then you can cut the cable accordingly. After so, you would be soldering the wires and while doing so, remember that polarity matters – in other words, connectors should be connected in one orientation. With regards to the example, the connectors are as below:
Black: Ground (-)
Green: Date (+)
White: Data (-)
Red: VCC (+5V)
- After connecting the wires, you can now glue the socket to the charger head. If needed, you may also use heat shrink to make sure that everything gets in its right place.
- And voila! You now have a new charger, an even useful charger!
Additional Tip: Use a fast charging cable connector to make better use of your upcycled charger.
While it may take a few precautions in upcycling an old phone charger, at the very least you would not need to let go of something that is already of quality – plus, you get to upgrade the item! With that being said, the benefits of upcycling should not be underestimated – as aside from learning useful hacks, it would also save you from the unnecessary expenses.