Insights

Cheap electronics costs the Earth

Electronic materials have become so cheap, so small and so tightly bound together through planned obsolescence design practices, that their end-of-life value is negligible. The result is that fewer than 20% of digital devices are recycled. Even in the case where devices are recycled, often less than 30% of usable materials are actually r... Read More »

Toxic waste is the business model of Big Tech

Once upon a long time ago—maybe 30-40 years ago—things were made to last. Things were made to repair. You could take apart, recycle and reuse any piece of electronics, component by component. “We had radio valves and transistors, and then integrated circuits,” computer scientist and author, Andy Farnell, explained to me. Andy is a brilli... Read More »

We must consume less energy

From an energy perspective, in using a digital device, there are four things to consider: The wattage of the device The length of time the device is being used for Electricity source Battery management The higher the wattage, the more energy. A typical smartphone will have a wattage of three, which means that using that smartphone ... Read More »

Digital’s hidden cost to the Earth is in its manufacturing

Up to 80% of the total currently measurable CO2 damage to the Earth that is done by a digital device happens during the manufacturing and distribution process. (End of life is not at all well documented and perhaps causes the biggest damage of all.) Here are some CO2 manufacturing costs of digital devices:Smartphone: 60 kg CO2Laptop: 300... Read More »

Calculating true and total cost of digital to the Earth

Currently, the key digital metrics are volume, production, consumption, engagement. These are waste metrics. Success is about getting people to waste as much time and energy as possible being engaged, to waste as much money as possible consuming things. Although it’s not explicitly measured—that would be too potentially embarrassing—th... Read More »

Solve deep needs, not superficial wants

This is the age of immediate satisfaction. Tech is relentlessly focused on getting us a cheap, disposable version of whatever we want in the fastest possible time. The biggest advertising companies in the world are Google and Facebook, and Amazon is the biggest discounter. The only thing that lasts today is our hunger for—and addiction t... Read More »

Need for long-term thinking

Most of our best and brightest minds are focused on creating trash. Practically nothing tech is built to last. Practically nothing tech is built to recycle, disassemble. In fact, it’s the very opposite. The beating heart of tech is planned obsolescence, a culture that deliberately sets out to destroy products and services long before the... Read More »

Is it worth it?

We must regain our sense of true worth. We must break our addiction to the brands that slyly tell us that, whatever the cost to the Earth, we’re worth it, to just do it. We must ask far more now: Is it worth it? We must learn to wait, to be patient, so that we can consume less and enjoy more. We must regain our sense of true value. The... Read More »

Ethical, fair working conditions

Systems that exploit Nature also exploit humans. “Plantation agriculture rapidly exhausted the soil,” Jamelle Bouie writes in the New York Times about the slavers of the US South. For most of my career I have been a tech evangelist. I have given countless presentations about the wonderful designs and user experiences of Google and Amaz... Read More »