I Bought A Laptop

I’ve been waiting for six years to say that.  I’m still using the desktop and CRT monitor that I took to first year of college.  I’ve gotten used to the hum of the CRT, the whir of the fan, and carrying that sucker up flights of stairs in the 14 times I’ve moved since then.  But she’s starting to object to opening web pages, so it’s time for a new beginning. 

So computers are even worse than the fashion industry for engineered obsolesence.  At least we know that every twenty to forty years, what we wore last year will be fashionable again for a bit.  Not so with computers, or phones, or music players- stupid Moore’s Law, making stuff all faster and more powerful.  Now, I’m no luddite.  Catch a luddite blogging!  (Then call them a hypocrite.)  I just don’t demand very much from my technology.  I’m not a power user, I don’t play computer games. All I want is a speedy computer to check email, write some things, and keep my photos on.  Fortunately, the toasters they make nowadays can do all that, so I’m golden.

I think we’re pretty inured to the idea that a computer is just funl, or just work- a complicated tool- and forget their environmental impacts.  They draw tons of power (especially as much as they’re on now, even if they are getting more efficient) and are manufactured from plastic, chemicals, toxic stuff, and all sorts of hard-to-reuse-or-recycle items.  What did you do with the last machine you got rid of?  Did you throw it out, or recycle it?  Was there a program available from the manufacturer to take it back?  As early as 2002, Wired was writing about the need to prevent computers frrm sitting in landfills, here or in China, leaking mercury and lead.

Fortunately, manufacturers and regulators have gotten on that problem, and now with the whole “green” thing, there’s even a host of ratings systems that compare how companies design, manufacture, ship, and recycle their products.  I wrote about the EPEAT ratings a while ago, and Greenpeace scores manufacturers (Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo) on cradle-to-the-grave machine management.  Verdant Computing rates products they offer on a few different sustainable criteria.  Greener Computing is an industry-oriented website with some interesting articles on ecologically sound IT, including on the burdens of recycling programs for manufacturersSoftchoice is also more for IT professionals, but it links EPEAT-certified hardware for sale.  There’s plenty of information out there if you want to find out how your computers are made, and what options you have when they’re obsolete.

Maybe that’s why it took me 8 months to research this purchase.

So chew on that, and I’m going to leave you with a cliffhanger tonight what I decided, and what I’m going to do with my old one.  Dun dun DUN!

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