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what is worse for the environment? consumerism or using older stuff...

i genuinly do wonder sometimes what is worse for the planet. the rampant consumerism you see, people upgrading as soon as something new comes out regardless if they need it or not; or using old stuff. 

 

like for example of couse it harms the planet if i build a new computer every year, but my current 11 year old computer also does damage, it's power consumption is a lot higher than a newer computer for example. 

 

same with my tv. you have people who buy a new tv every year, or people like me. i still use a CRT from the 90's which again consumes a lot more power than a modern tv would. 

 

i would like to hear opinions on this, as it's something i think about quite a bit. 

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It's not really a matter of opinion. Buying new stuff and throwing out the old is very bad. If it can be resold or given away for reuse, that would be better. And recycling it if it can't be reused is okay.

 

Reduce.

Reuse.

Recycle.

 

In that order.

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Manufacturing, shipping, and sales of devices consits of a ton of power & fossil fuel use.

Most people don't buy lower power components when they upgrade, regardless.

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5 minutes ago, Ashley xD said:

i would like to hear opinions on this, as it's something i think about quite a bit.

Scale is important. A single person changing a single incandescent lightbulb to an LED? Literally no difference. 10 000 people doing the same to all the bulbs in their homes? That'll show up as a very noticeable drop in power-consumption in the area.

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not tech related, but a similar question was asked about cars. should you keep your old car or buy a new electric one? a similar approach should be done with electronics, and anything else, really.

https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/keeping-your-old-gasoline-car-vs-buying-an-electric-car-which-is-better-f04b6ba32ea1

 

TL;DR

Is the car less than 10 years old?

Do I drive less than 24.000km (15.000 miles) a year?

Do I have a reasonably sized car (like a Honda civic)?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then it might be better to hold on to your old car for another 3–4 years.

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3 minutes ago, svmlegacy said:

Manufacturing, shipping, and sales of devices consits of a ton of power & fossil fuel use.

Most people don't buy lower power components when they upgrade, regardless.

It really comes down to does the cost of buying and using the new device (inlcuding all production and transportation costs + the recycling of the old device) outweigh continued use of the old. If not then getting a new device has a higher negative impact than continued use of the old.

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5 minutes ago, svmlegacy said:

Most people don't buy lower power components when they upgrade, regardless.

true, but my computer idles at 100W, a modern computer even if it has high power components in it idles at half that. 

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I think there is a balance, at some point it tips from the preserving the natural resources to reducing your energy footprint. Where that place lies will be very dependant on what you personally do. If you wanted to be very strict about it consoles, TVs and other purely entertainment technology would carry an additional penalty as there is no direct functional use for them. Home PC's may well fall there to but they do have a functional use too even if many do not heavily use them that way. Then you need to consider the recycling aspect too, can the item be recycled efficiently, reused in a different environment effectively. 

 

Short of falling back to an agrarian society and eschewing all but the essential technologies there will always be some waste, some way to be more efficient and as each of us has a different set of needs and wishes it is very difficult to set a standard for all or even one for ourselves alone as this balance point may change year on year as our situation changes. 

 

Personally I feel that being energy efficient without improving the technologies capacity for productive output is just as wasteful as upgrading without a productive reuse/recycling path.

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1 minute ago, Ashley xD said:

true, but my computer idles at 100W, a modern computer even if it has high power components in it idles at half that. 

Does that include the display? I can't remember the exact number, but, if my memory serves, my 8700K idles at around 30W-40W. Display would add quite a bit to that.

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Just now, Ashley xD said:

true, but my computer idles at 100W, a modern computer even if it has high power components in it idles at half that. 

Lol not mine 😅. It's OC'd of course, but I do leave on all of the power saving features. Even then it consumes ~100W when idle (monitor, speakers, and LEDs included.)

 

I think I tested it once, and the LEDs alone are like 15W. Yikes.

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  • Mouse: Glorious Model O-
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  • OS: Windows 10 Pro

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  • Intel Pentium G4600 (Kaby Lake)
  • Asus H110T/CSM Thin Mini-ITX
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  • iGPU
  • Akasa Euler Fanless Solid Aluminum THIN Mini ITX Case (passively cooled)
  • Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
  • External 120W Power Adaptor
  • 4K TV
  • Passively cooled by the Akasa case. No moving parts!
  • Handheld QWERTY keyboard and trackpad.
  • Windows 10 Pro, Kodi autostarts on boot

NAS:

  • Synology DS216J
  • 2x8TB WD Red NAS HDDs in RAID 1. 8TB usable space
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Just now, WereCatf said:

Does that include the display? I can't remember the exact number, but, if my memory serves, my 8700K idles at around 30W-40W. Display would add quite a bit to that.

my monitors are old too, i didn't include those though. like, my PC has 2 Xeon CPU's in it, each use like 40W idle at least. then you have to account for motherboard, and you're at 100W idle. 

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1 minute ago, HairlessMonkeyBoy said:

Lol not mine 😅. It's OC'd of course, but I do leave on all of the power saving features.

i'm using a server motherboard. it's designed to run 24/7 and constantly work. it's not designed to turn off features dynamically or anything like that... 

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2 minutes ago, Chris Fortune said:

If you wanted to be very strict about it consoles, TVs and other purely entertainment technology would carry an additional penalty as there is no direct functional use

Keeping stress levels down is an appropriate use of technology. Humans are not robots. Of course... They also need to live a healthy lifestyle inc. exercise and a healthy diet.

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14 minutes ago, Ashley xD said:

like for example of couse it harms the planet if i build a new computer every year, but my current 11 year old computer also does damage, it's power consumption is a lot higher than a newer computer for example.

Your older computer might consume more power, but you have to take into account the amount of power needed to build the new system, not to mention the other resources.

 

We actually have a big problem where things are becoming more efficient once it reaches the consumer, but the process of manufacturing and transporting these items are increasing in environmental harm.

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Just now, Ashley xD said:

i'm using a server motherboard. it's designed to run 24/7 and constantly work. it's not designed to turn off features dynamically or anything like that... 

Why do you have the 2nd CPU installed? Part of this can be solved with behavioural traits. If you're using it for work, newer CPU's can be a lot more efficient, which makes a bigger difference than it's idle power.

 

Arguably, if it's idling, why isn't it asleep?

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1 minute ago, svmlegacy said:

Keeping stress levels down is an appropriate use of technology. Humans are not robots. Of course... They also need to live a healthy lifestyle inc. exercise and a healthy diet.

I worded it that way to suggest it was a step too far, as with most things there is a nessercary balance to be struck

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14 minutes ago, svmlegacy said:

Why do you have the 2nd CPU installed? Part of this can be solved with behavioural traits. If you're using it for work, newer CPU's can be a lot more efficient, which makes a bigger difference than it's idle power.

i have the 2nd cpu because the power is very nice to have. also it was a very cheap solution to getting loads of computing power. i don't have money for a brand new system with comparable performance to this machine. 

 

for your context, in multicore this old beast is faster than a brand new 10th gen core i5, and the cpu's, mobo and ram cost me 170 euro in total. 

 

 

14 minutes ago, svmlegacy said:

Arguably, if it's idling, why isn't it asleep?

i consider ideling also stuff like watching youtube, like, youtube takes up 4 ot 5% of the cpu's. that's considered idle to me. 

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using older stuff can be bad... more power consumption (see incandescent bulbs vs GOOD led lightning... good led lightning can last way longer than incandescent, enough to offset the waste caused by pcbs and components inside the led bulb) 

 

For me, my pet peeve is packaging 

 

I would seriously make a law or something to force everyone to not have packaging take more volume than actual product or be made out of more than 10% non recyclable materials / hard to recycle plastics. 

 

Looking at individually wrapped things where each item is excessively wrapped ... excessive use of plastics (blister packs where they could use cardboard or other things). 

 

For example, looking at those Ariel  capsules boxes where they use a big plastic container for 12-40 caps with liquid detergent : https://www.amazon.com/Ariel-Colour-Washing-Capsules-Washes/dp/B07CL5F47G/

It's hard to recycle plastic, hard to recycles sticky labels ... lots of plastic for some caps that use a bunch of space just because of their design ... if people weren't so stuck on shapes and crap like that, they could probably the 2-3 ingredients in separate pill like plastic baggies and use much less space.

 

Could easily use aluminum caps with a plastic cap to make it more recyclable for example, but no, they have to use plastic which child lock system because the shape of the caps is too attractive to kids so now the lid must be plastic 

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The problem is that the practice of gluing phones shut,and making it difficult for the customer to replace the CPU,RAM or the battery in both laptops and phones is the main reason for this,discouraging customers from repairing their own stuff.

even made the task of battery replacement complex.

They illegally monopolize the repair of the products they produce,using their position as an advantage in the repair industry,and work to stifle competition.

The Fair Trade Comission have ignored it for a long time,but this is illegal without any doubt (See the Sherman antitrust act of 1890)

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3 minutes ago, Vishera said:

The problem is that the practice of gluing phones shut,and making it difficult for the customer to replace the CPU,RAM or the battery in both laptops and phones is the main reason for this.

They illegally monopolize the repair of the products they produce,using their position as an advantage in the repair industry,and work to stifle competition.

The Fair Trade Comission have ignored it for a long time,but this is illegal without any doubt (See the Sherman antitrust act of 1890)

there is a reason why i have an old laptop. the cpu is soldered, but batteries, ram, storage, wifi card, it can all be swapped out. 

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Just now, Ashley xD said:

there is a reason why i have an old laptop. the cpu is soldered, but batteries, ram, storage, wifi card, it can all be swapped out. 

A year before your laptop was released laptops with socketed CPUs were still a thing,

The best socketed CPU for laptops is the i7-3940XM,it's also an overclockable CPU...

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11 minutes ago, Vishera said:

A year before your laptop was released laptops with socketed CPUs were still a thing,

The best socketed CPU for laptops is the i7-3940XM,it's also an overclockable CPU...

mine is actually from that era, it's a HP 9470m. it's 3rd gen intel. 

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4 minutes ago, Ashley xD said:

mine is actually from that era, it's a HP 9470m. it's 3rd gen intel. 

Most laptops back then were socketed,weird.

A core i5 3320M would be the socketed alternative to your CPU...

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It's a complex issue that has many variables, while energy consumption is an issue, it kinda depends on your location, for exemple here in my province, most of the electricity is made using renewables ... so the impact isn't the same as if the electricity was made from coal or gas burning.

 

But the point @Vishera made about upgradability and phones being glued shut is a good one, I think that's also a good reason for RTR laws and regulation.

 

I personally think throwing stuff out and getting new stuff when you don't NEED it is wasteful, I get that people want the latest and newest thing, but want and need are 2 different things, I would love to have a new PC with a 5800x and a 3080, but I don't NEED it! Same for my car, I would love to have the newest Outlander PHEV, but my current car is still going strong and only have maintenance to do on it, so I don't need it.

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There's a lot of factors that influence the intensity of the damage the technology market causes on the environment.

 

The TL;DR is this: Keeping components for a long time means very little if you throw away the components you don't want in the trash instead of recycling, regardless of whether you buy used or infrequently purchase new tech. In terms of electricity, the difference is minimal, but by far the worst thing you can do for the environment is not encourage people to practice restraint (reducing purchase frequency, recycling broken hardware and repurposing old/obsolete tech, etc.)

 

The long version, now: There are several factors in lifespan of an electronic component that contribute to its negative effect on the environment. There order of these factors is something like this:

  1. The raw materials are extracted (rare-Earth metals are dug from mines and deposits, petrol and other chemicals are harvested to make plastics and other components like helium and lithium are gathered on an industrial scale for the things that may use them, like vapor chambers and batteries). This generates pollution by damaging or removing the local flora and fauna, as well as lifting massive amounts of dust into the air. The noise and slag generated by the industrial excavators is also a factor here, as is the depletion of the Earth's finite resources.
  2. The materials are loaded and transported to a facility. This is causes minimal amounts of harm to the environment, especially if the processing facility is relatively close by. Nevertheless this generates noise and petrol emissions, and, in the event or an accident, could cause a spill of sometimes toxic material unto the surrounding areas.
  3. The processing of usable materials takes place. This step transforms the desired materials by separating these elements from other unwanted elements and dirt. This is an extremely energy-intensive process that requires massive amounts of electricity and water, both of which are often not themselves produced in an environmentally conscious way. The remaining waste is then dumped somewhere else and, regrettably, it is not done in a way that minimizes the damage to the environment and destroys the local biosphere. (This is, in my opinion, the most damaging element of the PC market)
  4. Depending on the situation, the materials may be transported to yet another facility. The previously mentioned on transportation also applies here.
  5. The materials are constructed and assembled in the/another facility. These processes are generally less resource intensive than the processing of raw materials but they still do require electricity to be carried out. Since many different materials are also to and from the assembly plant, traffic and noise pollution is a big problem that requires attention.
  6. The products are shipped around the world. In addition to the effects of traditional land-based traffic, sea and air transportation also create their own share of problems, especially sea transportation. Transport by sea requires vast amounts of diesel power, generates carbon emissions, exposes the ocean water to cleaning chemicals present on the ship's hull and creates the remote opportunity for an oil spillage, which is disastrous for all types of life.
  7. The product is purchased and used. This might actually be the least damaging stage of the component's lifespan. Throughout its useful life, the component with physically only require electricity to function and though it requires a constant supply of power it could take between a year to a decade for it to consume as much power as it took to be made.
  8. The product is now, by the owner's perspective, 'useless' and is discarded. Assuming it is not recycled, this component will either end up in a landfill, creating more waste or it will ends up in the hands of another person where it will repeat the process staring from the "use" stage.

 

When taken as a whole, the act of continuing to use a part that is no longer considered "efficient" is far less damaging than the process of creating a newer, more-efficient product. The effect of the end-user on the environment when using a component is fairly minimal when taking into account the full context of the product's lifespan. However, this does not mean that the more damaging effects of the environment are out of the average person's control. By one reducing their demand, the supplier will, in turn, reduce supply and thus reduce the frequency of the processes that damage the environment on a large scale. One person may not accomplish a drastic change on their own but many people taking this kind of initiative most definitely will. There are also other kinds of actions one can take to reduce the damages caused by electronic dependence. Here's a short list, off the top of my head:

  • Reuse old equipment and/or repurpose it for other means instead of buying another device for the task you require.
  • Attempt to fix damaged equipment by following proper safety protocols and keep the device out of the landfill. You can also fix other people's devices and make money! $‿$
  • Sell the unwanted devices on the second-hand market instead of keeping it gathering dust in some attic.
  • Take the salvageable devices to a recycling plant, disassembly may be required.
  • Thoroughly research the products you wish to buy and make sure they are made to last.
  • Finally, resist the urge to buy things just because they are "better" than what you currently have. If it works, don't replace it.

It's good that you are thinking about how our purchasing habits affect the environment and I also understand that it may feel overwhelming and completely out of our control. The truth is that the future of the world and the environment is out of our individual control, but environmental degradation can be curbed by taking action collectively. Don't wait on some stranger to start a Kickstater to plant trees and and other junk, start doing the things you can in your daily life. Collective progress requires individual initiative, so just get out there and stop spending!

If you've made it this for, here's some motivation for you (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

 

You've got the power!!!

 

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