Just Push an ecoButton?

Before you read the real part, do something quick for me? If you’re running Windows, go to the Start Menu, Control Panel, and click into Power Options. Set some power-saving options for when you aren’t using your computer, if you haven’t already- no reason to keep it on full power when you abandon it for something more interesting.

Ok, that was pretty easy, right? But don’t you wish there was a green colored button with a picture of the world on it that you could just push to make it happen? None of that annoying dragging the mouse all across the screen and clicking on a thing then dragging the mouse again and more clicking?

Rejoice, lazy ones, the EcoButton is here. Engadget covered the big green thing today. Just plug it in to a USB port and then push it, and your computer goes into “ecomode”. Press any key on the keyboard, and it will return from that happy green yonder and tell you how much carbon you saved while it was away. Their website is astounding. I don’t mean the good kind of astounding. Green logos and sidebars, a picture of children planting trees, and a prominent mention of carbon emissions on every page? This isn’t just greenwashing, it’s greenbashing you over the head with greenwashing.

No amount of green plastic or planting children will hide the fundamentally silly idea: spend 30 seconds and set up your computer to do this all the time, or buy a manufactured plastic thing and waste a USB port and push a button every time and then get a distracting screen when you start up again. This doohicky is for sale in bulk to cooperations as a promotional item- like the pens and key chains and stress things you get at job fairs or the end of a fiscal year, if your company pretends to love you. Now, they can give you the ecobutton! It’s a green worthless giveaway!

No, it is not. Well, ok it is worthless, but not green. Do not be seduced by the ecobutton at your next job fair or trade event. It has betrayed its stated principles, and you need that USB port for your rocket launcher anyway.

These doodads and gadgets to make your life greener rile me up. They make a mockery of the considered thought and purposeful effort that are the basis of sustainable decisions. An “ecobutton” to put an “ecomode” on your PC? How wonderful! Is ecobutton 2.0 the one we push to reduce dependency on fossil fuels? I’ll wait for the upgrade, thanks!

You feel like an easy green change? The easiest I know of? Do the power saving thing I talked about at the beginning. If you’re not running Windows don’t rely on those directions, but I promise you it’s easy even if you have to figure out how to do it yourself. Better yet, turn off your computer when you’re not using it, and unplug it from the wall. Unplug doohicky chargers and your TV. Put them all on the same surge protector and unplug it- make it really easy. These things all draw power even when they’re not being used, and it’s all wasted.

Note- Unplugging the Tivo/DVR will result in it not taping MacGyver reruns for you, so leave it in. And my Gentleman Friend, a computer type, is of the opinion that turning off computers more than once a year is bad for them because then they die? I don’t understand this idea, and I do feel like if your computer dies because it hated being turned off so much, maybe it’s best to just let it go, but fair warning.

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1 Response to “Just Push an ecoButton?”


  1. 1 Cameron February 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    My Head Of Lab (aka my boss) has set-up 6 new P.C. computers since I’ve been in the lab, and he is very conscious about turning on the save power mode. All of our monitors are Gateway flat panels with inherent power-save modes, and are made to be turned on and off repeatedly with no ill effect! If this USB Key people are really concerned with eco-ness, they should make the software free online for downloading, and not wast money and resources on a USB key (most of us don’t have a spare port to dedicate anyway)! Good investigative work. Now if you could only get the “green-hippie mafia” on this company….it would be ON!


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