To Be or Not To Be; GREEN?

There is a lot of discussion about being “Green” these days and protecting the environment. With various countries, states, cities, and even companies enacting eco friendly regulations for CE products, it looks as though we’ve turned a corner in environmental protection. These changes are showing up everywhere from bans on using unhealthy substances in the manufacturer of products to companies sending holiday eCards as apposed to paper cards to save trees. This is a wonderful change to the days of excess and pollution from days gone by.

My question is, how much are we really saving the environment when the lifespan of many CE products like computers, televisions, and gaming consoles are getting shorter and shorter. Maybe the products are more eco friendly, but when it’s cheaper for consumers to purchase a new TV then fix an older model, we are finding that older equipment (many of which are not that old) are ending up in our landfills rather than in living rooms. Today’s society is hungry for the latest and greatest and we don’t want to pay very much for it. So retailers need lower pricing and force the manufacturers to find cheaper sources of parts and labor to accommodate thereby reducing the number of blue collar jobs in the developed Western Nations, reducing the size and disposable income of the middle class. With less money to spend on discretionary purchases, they demand lower prices and the cycle repeats itself.

In the duplicator industry I see this a lot with optical disc drives. Early on, the drives were very expensive but they would last longer. Not only would the physical drive last longer, but each particular model would have a longer lifespan. Now we’re lucky if a particular drive model lasts more than 6 months. Innovation is not a bad thing, but when production of a specific model is shorter than the warranty period for that item, it causes plenty of headache and complications. Plus the fact that the drives have become so inexpensive, consumers would rather throw them away and buy new ones than try to fix them.

So my point is, even though the CE products are more eco friendly in their construction and design, how environmentally friendly are they when they are filling up our landfills? Although, more and more companies are participating in a recycling program, I just hope the consumers are willing to cooperate.

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