Site icon Jake Ludington

Do you care if your gadgets are green?

I can recall a time about 16 years ago when I threw a CRT monitor in a dumpster because it didn’t work. It was one of those old monochromatic amber displays. Today I know that’s a environmental hazard because the monitor probably contained mercury and who knows what other harmful things, but at the time when something didn’t work the obvious thing to do was throw it in the trash. I certainly won’t do it again. More recently I’ve taken some old electronics to PC recycling centers in hopes my old electronics will be disposed of in a responsible manner. I bring this up because computer and gadget manufacturers are trying to get more environmentally conscious. The question is do we care?
Sony has used PVC-free cables in their laptops since 2007. In June 2008, HP announced plans to phase out mercury in its entire notebook line by 2010. Dell made a similar announcement in September 2008. Apple seemingly beat all the PC makers to the punch by announcing plans to eliminate PVC and brominated flame retardants from their product line by the end of 2008, along with a full product line of MacBook and iPod products with mercury free displays.
I’m certainly more likely to buy organic vegetables when I can, because I’d rather not ingest toxins. I hadn’t really thought about the potential toxins in my computer equipment until all the manufacturers started touting how green they intend to be. If I was presented with two identical computers from a technical standpoint, one made from more environmentally safe materials, I’d definitely choose the environmentally safe notebook. On the other hand, if I were forced to choose a more expensive product or an inferior product in order to be more environmentally responsible, I’m not convinced I’m ready to make that sacrifice.
To borrow from some over-used political grandstanding, am I mortgaging the environment of our children’s future by not buying green electronics? Or should environmental responsibility only be one component of the computer buying decision, especially if the net result is paying more or getting lower performance for the same money.
What do you think? Does it matter to you if your gadgets are green?

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