Read the full story in The Guardian.
A study of laptops by the Öko Institute showed that 56% of the total greenhouse gas emissions of a laptop are produced in the production phase. This means that if you buy a new laptop which is 10% more energy efficient, it would still take up to 89 years of use to cancel out the GHGs generated in the production, distribution and disposal of the product.
With the average lifespan of a laptop being 3-5 years it’s clear that buying new, greener products can make only a limited contribution to emissions reductions, and why at the consumer level, we are all restricted in our power to change the system. The goods that we might like to support – goods that reflect a truly sustainable lifecycle – barely even exist.
This poses an exciting challenge for designers and social enterprises seeking to lead efforts towards a circular economy. Those businesses that currently claim to be “sustainable” may find that their credentials fall short when they ask themselves a new set of questions: is our product designed to last? Do we take responsibility for what happens after its use? Do we know our supply chain all the way to the bottom?
The Gaia Foundation’s 2013 report, Short Circuit, exposes the ecological destruction and human rights violations at every stage in the lifecycle of gadgets such as smartphones and laptops.