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Green Is In At CES, But Is It Real? 165

Posted by timothy
from the hi-fi-jumpropes dept.
OTL writes "You've heard the talk of 'Green' throughout the whole of 2008, but the way a product affects the environment will be a huge consideration in consumer buying habits, at least when it comes to gadgets. But, the CEA report also said that consumers are very skeptical about the green claims made by high-tech firms for their products. More than 38 percent of those interviewed by the CEA said they were confused by green product claims and 58 percent wanted to know the specific attributes that prompted hi-tech firms to label their products green."
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Green Is In At CES, But Is It Real?

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  • Pea soup! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    We should all eat it. It's the greenest soup.
    • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:26PM (#26360571) Homepage Journal
      "...the way a product affects the environment will be a huge consideration in consumer buying habits, at least when it comes to gadgets. "

      Is this really the case?

      Honestly, I don't know anyone that takes into consideration how 'green' something is before they purchase it...especially gadgets.

      I know there is a sizable minority growing that is concerned about everything 'green', but, really...in the general public, while they may even be vocally in favor of 'green' things...does it really affect their everyday life and their purchases?

      Those green advertising dollars are certainly lost on me...I buy stuff I want because I want it, without regard to greenness or anything else.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:40PM (#26360809)

        This seems like something the feds could or maybe even should do. They want restaurants to put dietary information on menus, what's the harm in putting wattage draws on electronic product? There is a pretty clear gap in the knowledge out there now, is "Green" ROHS? Is "Green" higher efficiency parts?

        If there were two nearly identical machines and one drew 80w and the other drew 120w would that affect your decision?

        I historically haven't cared but I have built some systems with AMD's HE parts and saw a measurable difference in my electric bill.

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:58PM (#26361123)

        Honestly, I don't know anyone that takes into consideration how 'green' something is before they purchase it...especially gadgets.

        What about appliances (fridges, laundry machines, etc)?

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "What about appliances (fridges, laundry machines, etc)?"

          Nope...not at first at least.

          I'd buy a stove (hopefully a new one soon) to what I want...something with massive BTU's, like a gas Vulcan or Wolfe stove. I'm looking for heavy, fast heat. Something I could even use a real wok on and stir fry with. So, in that case....looking for the opposite of efficiency....

          For fridge, I want sub zero or the equivalent...I'd ideally like separate fridge and freezer units

          Other appliances...well, washer and dryer,

          • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by afidel (530433) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @06:07PM (#26364153)
            You must have money to burn (and if you are looking at Wolf and Subzero you must) so the marginal cost of the energy use is nothing compared to the waste you've already spent on marketing image. For the rest of us it makes sense to look at efficiency, two refrigerators of the same size and general design are standing next to each other and one has the Energy Star stick at $200 / year and costs $400 and the other is $110/year but costs $450, you'd be stupid to buy the $400 model. This is what labeling can do for the consumer.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cayenne8 (626475)
              "You must have money to burn (and if you are looking at Wolf and Subzero you must) so the marginal cost of the energy use is nothing compared to the waste you've already spent on marketing image."

              NOpe...I do ok...but, I work hard and save for things I want and like. Frankly, I don't care if it has the Wolfe or Vulcan name on it...but, I do want a stove that DOES what those do in terms of BTU output. I want a 6 eye top, pref. with a griddle area too. I just don't seem to see many other stoves out there fro

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Honestly, I don't know anyone that takes into consideration how 'green' something is before they purchase it...especially gadgets.

        Hi! Now you know me.

        I know there is a sizable minority growing that is concerned about everything 'green', but, really...in the general public, while they may even be vocally in favor of 'green' things...does it really affect their everyday life and their purchases?

        While it's not my #1 consideration for gadgets -- semiconductor manufacturing is extremely ungreen -- I do take things like the use of recycled materials, power consumption, emissions (both factory and from the product itself), recyclability, re-use potential, environmental track record of the company, etc. into account when I make any purchase decision.

        Sadly, in purchasing gadgets, most of the time all of the choices are equally bad. :(

      • Honestly, I don't know anyone that takes into consideration how 'green' something is before they purchase it...especially gadgets.

        Me.

        I won't even consider buying a computer that will use more than about 300W of power at any time, because it's too much. My current Linux desktop uses about 20W, and my server about 10W.

        -:sigma.SB

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The Greenest is the Fit-PC

          http://www.fit-pc.com/new/ [fit-pc.com]

          but you wont get performance or Vista running...

        • by Toonol (1057698)
          I think considerations such as power consumption are distinct from many other 'green' considerations. It's in the economic self-interest of the consumer to purchase low-consumption devices, and it can be independently verified.

          But the more ethereal 'greenness' of a company is less relevant, because some of us don't care, and many of us who do care don't believe any of the PR put out. I mean, Apple building laptops out of recyclable components? I simply think it's an invention of the marketing departme
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fozzyuw (950608) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:48PM (#26361913)

        Honestly, I don't know anyone that takes into consideration how 'green' something is before they purchase it...especially gadgets.

        Actually, there are some but the general market research that my company has conducted (as well as many others I'm sure) will show that almost no consumer will pay more for a "green" product but they will likely choose a "green" product over a "non-green" product if all other things are equal. Which comes down to a simple idea of perceived value. In this case, the "green" product will make the consumer feel like they're getting more for their money (as intangible or obscure as it might directly be).

        However, there is a very small segmentation of society that will "walk to walk", so to speak, and spend considerably more money on products labeled green. Most will not and most that do buy green products buy them for financial, not environmental, reasons. Meaning, they bought a Hybrid because they figured they'd be saving on gas costs. Or they bought CFL bulbs to save money on the electric bill. Stuff like that.

        Very few consumers, if any, will pay more for green products. Simply said, spending money on making your product green, which will increase the price of your product, is not a good business decision. Luckily, most companies are finding out that they can do "green" things and save money. Turning off the lights and computers at the end of the day. Finding ways to reuse/recycle manufacturing waste or even implementing better recycling programs can save a company a lot of money while benefiting the environment.

        I'm close enough to these ideas as the Market Research guy sits right across from me and has shown me our report on the "green" topic. I'm also part of my companies "Green Team" for which we've implemented and discussed some of the above examples. Just by implementing a better recycling program, we're cutting down a sizable percentage of waste going to a landfill, which in-turn, means less cost because waste removal is charged by the weight. As well as, once being charged for hauling away recyclables, there are companies who will do it for no cost because they actually make a fair amount on turning in recyclables.

        Though, one interesting statistic from the last Executive Leadership Team minutes was that my company has managed to reduce overall electrical consumption by a few percentage points but the total costs more than doubled. Ouch.

        Though, the whole "green" push has turned into "green-washing", where companies are overstating or trying to point out excessively small environmental impacts for the sake of PR.

        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Funny)

          by RobinH (124750) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @05:02PM (#26363179) Homepage

          Luckily, most companies are finding out that they can do "green" things and save money. Turning off the lights and computers at the end of the day. Finding ways to reuse/recycle manufacturing waste or even implementing better recycling programs can save a company a lot of money while benefiting the environment.

          Having given this scenario a lot of thought recently, consider what happens to the money that the company saved. The "control" case is that they money is spent on energy/waste whatever. The "better" case is that less money is spent on energy/waste. Let's assume this translates into the company spending X dollars *less* on these expense accounts.

          At the end of the accounting period, assuming revenue and all other expenses are the same, the company actually has more money in the bank. What happens to that money?

          a) If the company leaves it in the bank, the bank will loan it out to other people/companies, all of whom will use it to purchase stuff, all of which will consume energy.

          b) If the company re-invests the money in itself, it will spend it on capital projects, which of course consumes energy.

          c) If the company disperses the income as dividends to shareholders, then the shareholders either put it in the bank (see (a)) or spend it (see (b)) or invest it. Investment increases the capital pool, which is all money available to companies to use and spend, presumably on stuff that will use energy.

          Now all of these things are good *for the economy* because money is being spent more efficiently (we as humans are getting more of stuff that we value). However, I just can't see this kind of activity making any kind of difference on total energy, because what's happening is that we are getting more for the same amount of energy. The total energy used by a society will be roughly correlated with the amount of money spent in the economy, or depending on how you look at the relationship, vice-versa.

          Has anyone else followed this line of thinking? Any thoughts?

          I know that there are "clean" technologies vs. "dirty" technologies, so theoretically, expending equal dollars on a clean alternative might work (certainly common sense says it will). The immediate effect would be a lower price of the dirty technology (supply and demand), and then some suppliers of the dirty technology would stop producing it because it's no longer as profitable, until the supply drops enough that the price returns to a profitable level.

          So from what I can tell, reducing consumption (and waste) of a commodity is good for the economy, but not necessarily for the environment. However, switching to an alternative "cleaner" commodity that costs the same *is* good for the environment, but neutral to the economy.

          • by giafly (926567)

            So from what I can tell, reducing consumption (and waste) of a commodity is good for the economy, but not necessarily for the environment. However, switching to an alternative "cleaner" commodity that costs the same *is* good for the environment, but neutral to the economy.

            Yes, and unfortunately No. "Switching to an alternative "cleaner" commodity that costs the same" increases demand for the clean commodity and hence slightly increases its price, while slightly decreasing demand for the dirty commodity a

            • by RobinH (124750)

              I see you're in the same predicament as me. I've decided to travel the world extinguishing coal seam fires... any objections??? :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by plover (150551) *

          Though, the whole "green" push has turned into "green-washing", where companies are overstating or trying to point out excessively small environmental impacts for the sake of PR.

          And what's wrong with that? If there's no effective difference between Brand X and Green Brand, what is wrong with putting an extra filter on your smoke stack, tossing it in a green bottle and slapping a couple of 'Green Brand saves the planet!' stickers on it? It's Marketing 101 -- differentiate your product. It just has to be factual -- nobody said it had to be meaningful. Really, it just has to get a handful of shoppers to throw your product in their cart rather than the other guy's product. It's a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by horatio (127595)

        I buy things because they're useful. I consider energy usage as measured in efficiency when purchasing a vehicle or even a PSU - because it costs me less money to operate the device.

        I heard a PSA on the radio a couple of days ago about unplugging your cellphone charger when you're not using it - the implication being that it uses just as much electricity when you're not charging your phone as when you are. I just checked real quick. Two cell phone chargers (Motorola usb wall charger and iPhone USB wall a

        • by wpiman (739077)
          I hate CFL. It takes a while to ramp up: it is noisy: and it contains hazardous materials. The light is also kind of poor. If you break one: the EPA tells you to open your windows and evacuate your house for ten minutes.

          I have two of them for use outside. I don't care about the noise there and my PC turns the lights on at dusk and shuts them off at 10:30. They are on a long time, and if they break I don't need to leave my home.

          Solve these problems: and I am in. I wonder if LEDs will be better.

          • I hate CFL. It takes a while to ramp up.

            You're buying the wrong bulbs, then. Mine go instantly to full brightness. Also, they are silent... or at least less noisy than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, judging from the reading lamp at my bed.
      • by dbIII (701233)
        I certainly consider power consumption when it comes to disks and CPUs. Having to pay for that excess heat twice after you remove it via air conditioning is annoying, so it's an economic consideration. I do consider "green" in terms of raw resource use and really don't care about carbon etc.
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        Did you just reply to an effectively content-free post just to get placed higher, so people would have a better chance at reading/modding you?

        That appears to be the case, and that is my assumption when I suggest you sodomize yourself with a retractable baton, FOAD, STFU, and tits or GTFO.

        Really?

        This are why we can't have nice things.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Well considering computer parts have a lot of lead in them, yeah - I'd consider going Green pretty important.

        I mean, we can't have lead in bullets anymore (at least in America), but we make tons of electronics with the stuff. The electronics get dumped in landfills because you have to pay to recycle them (absolutely ludicrous IMO). The lead and other toxic chemicals go into the ground water, and it spreads from there.

        You don't care about green now, but if one of your kids is born mentally disabled because o

    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *

      We should all eat it. It's the greenest soup.

      When I saw this, I imediatly thought of Soylent green.

  • Buzzwords (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <`spazztastic' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:20PM (#26360497)
    It's a buzzword. It'll get people to buy your product regardless because it catches attention, along with terms like "This new design is very Web 2.0." Want to know more? Watch Penn & Teller's: Bullshit!, they have an episode on Going Green.
  • by getuid() (1305889) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:22PM (#26360513) Homepage

    58 percent wanted to know the specific attributes that prompted hi-tech firms to label their products green

    #00ff00 maybe?

    Thank you, I'll be here all week! Try the veal.

  • I don't think so. It might at best be a secondary concern. I doubt in the current financial climate people are going to be stressing green in their purchases when they might be able to get a less-green alternative for less.

    The green practices of high tech companies are how to properly recycle and make re-use of electronics is confusing to most people, considering that many still believe that these products are impossible to reuse. Anything more complicated than paper in the green bin, is mystifying to m

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:25PM (#26360557)

    What, do they paint it green? Is it because it consumes less electricity? Is it because the circuit boards are made out of cardboard and bio-degradable silly putty? Or is this whole "green" movement nothing but an excuse for the boomers to try to look responsible in the waning years of their power, covering up the gross excesses of the past few decades, living amongst superfluous abundance while the rest of us watched the economy go straight to hell? These people jabber about carbon footprints, kilowatts, and they act like this is hard science. Most of the terms these "greenies" use are vague and could be defined many ways. People think driving an electric car is green -- but then fail to take into account that those high performance batteries are highly toxic and need replaced every few years. And the aluminum required to build those cars to be light enough to be practical requires huge amounts of electricity -- and most of that energy is created by burning coal.

    The problem with the green movement, and any product that caters to it, is two-fold: One, lack of total picture. There is no objective way to compare two products in a similar category in a cradle-to-grave capacity. Fundamentally, it can't yet be done because we don't know what's more or less harmful than the next thing -- does a ton of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere equate to "more harm" than several ounces of CFCs? Without a way to make a direct comparison, or have a way to objectively measure a products "green performance", calling something green is meaningless. The second problem is... Many green products are of inferior quality and are higher priced than their non-green counterparts.

    Why is this sham movement getting attention in the technical community? I'm not saying this as a troll, I honestly want to know -- how can you people as engineers and scientists look at this and say that any aspect of this so-called movement is objective?

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:35PM (#26360703) Homepage Journal
      Personally, I'd avoid RoHS products like the plague given the poorer quality of the solder joints.

      What good is "being green" when you're going to generate twice as much waste throwing the pieces of shit away?
      • Afaict it's pretty much impossible to avoid products made with lead free solder and/or lead free component finishes. Few manufacturers want to produce products that can't legally be sold in the EU (yeah, I know there are some exceptions but often the same motherboards and expansion cards get used in servers and top end desktops so the sensible thing from the manufacturers perspective is to make them ROHS compliant).

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        But you're not green unless everyone "knows" you're green so you have to go out of your way to look like you are green. If you were actually green no one would notice or pay attention since you wouldn't look "green".

        Look at Green Peace vs. Apple. Apple wasn't going out of their way to look green so they weren't green enough for Green Peace.

        • But you're not green unless everyone "knows" you're green so you have to go out of your way to look like you are green. If you were actually green no one would notice or pay attention since you wouldn't look "green".

          And as we all know, it's not easy.

      • by afidel (530433)
        RoHS isn't really possible to avoid and most of the early problems with the leadless solder have been solved. There is some longevity problems with tin whiskers, but for the majority of consumer electronics it's not a problem on the timescale of the products expected lifetime.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gfxguy (98788)

      I dunno... it's less to do with being "green" than it is trying to save money, but I look for things that use less power (laptop over desktop, for example... yes, I know $ for $ you get more power with a desktop, but most uses don't require the kind of power than processors are giving us unless you're a computer nerd slashdot reader).

      Even my desktops... last system I built I had a choice in AMD processors between 65 watt and over 100 watt (older generation, but similar clock speed). It was only a couple bu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShadowBlasko (597519)

      People think driving an electric car is green -- but then fail to take into account that those high performance batteries are highly toxic and need replaced every few years.

      I'll start taking you "Green is BS" people a little more seriously when you stop using your FUD.

      The Prius has been on sale for 9 years, and they have YET to replace a battery for wear or lack of charging issues (source toyota, look it up yourself).

      Oh, and Nimh batteries are almost completely recyclable in environmentally safe ways. NiCads are nasty, but they are in use less and less.

      • Crap, self disclaimer: That article from toyota was from 12/06.
      • The Prius is not an electric car, it's a hybrid. It doesn't use NiMH batteries either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Neoprofin (871029)
        That's funny, one google search for "prius battery replacement" shows that there were issues with the '01-'03 modles all thought they appear to be cleared up in the newer model which does not allow the battery to go move outside of 40-80% charge.

        There's also an an aftermarket for replacement batteries from wrecked Priuses so clearly someone needs them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'll start taking you "Green is BS" people a little more seriously when you stop using your FUD.

        Well, as long as you asked me to look it up, and because you just had to take my general statement and turn it into a specific instance, well then okay -- here you go [toyota.co.jp]. Word from Toyota itself stating that most emission ratings are higher in the Prius than gasoline powered vehicles -- with exception only to the driving cycle.

        In plain english, your champion green car is less green to produce than those evil gas burning cars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by N1ck0 (803359)

      In this day and age everyone needs to take responsibility for the environment, so it is our pleasure to announce Foomatic Industries Green Initiative and it new line of Green* Widgets.

      ----
      * Green products are those made with natural materials** only

      ** Natural materials are considered those found naturally within our universe consisting of normal matter***

      *** Normal matter refers to matter which does not contain dark matter or exotic particles****

      **** Please note some of our products may contain exotic parti

    • by radl33t (900691)
      I'm confused whether your argument is against green gadgets or the entire green industry. Either way, true that most of it is contaminated for business purposes, but some of it is hard science. I think your derision is accurate, but not to all green products... Even so, the 'sham movement' will help in the long run because even if specific claims are bogus the fundamental principle is sound. I suppose it could backfire, but that's a risk I'll take (vs. what?) and I think a compromise we have to make given
    • It was a good idea that has become a great big shambolic bandwagon. For instance, these two things are considered of equal value in going green:

      1/ Put effort into R&D to design efficient nuclear power plants with good waste management and then build them when they work.

      2/ Build a pile of 1960s Westinghouse dinosaur nuclear plants at vast expense to the taxpayer, keep them going at an high ongoing expense to the taxpayer, and shove the waste into a hole in the ground hoping that it doesn't rain much.

      T

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smoking c u be.be> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:28PM (#26360597) Homepage

    There is a big difference between what people interpret as being green. If you believed Greenpeace, we would all be back in the stone-age since everything has some type of impact on the nature. If you believe Apple and set it as a standard then all of our stuff would be more expensive, in line with the Apple products, no more $200 laptops. If you believe Dell 'green' is everything that is painted white (or black) in order to attract/detract heat or other types of radiation from certain components.

    Then there are the politicians trying to define what is green and if you believe them, selling vouchers of cubic meters of carbon exhaust to 3rd world countries is their form of becoming 'green' while China and other 3rd world companies are becoming burial grounds for and are 'recycling' valuables from our dead gadgets in what they call 'green' initiatives.

    A few years ago (60's-80's) becoming more environmental friendly was burning trash and putting exhaust pipes of factories higher in the sky effectively moving our problem higher. Now we've gone to burying our trash, effectively moving our problem again.

    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:37PM (#26360741) Journal

      If you believed Greenpeace, we would all be back in the stone-age since everything has some type of impact on the nature.

      If you believe Greenpeace, the worst offenders are a) whichever companies get them the most publicity by attacking them (Apple, Nintendo, but not semiconductor makers consumers have never heard of) and b) whoever doesn't give money to Greenpeace.

    • by UncleWilly (1128141) * <UncleWilly07@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:39PM (#26360787)

      Son

      Obviously you never looked at America's rivers,etc in the 1960's.

      Look at China now, that's what America was like in the 1960's.

      • Look at China now, that's what America was like in the 1960's.

        Americas rivers in the 60's had some issues, but are nothing like the waste we see/have seen in communist countries where people have less power to intervene against the state.

        Can you point to a specific river in China you are thinking of?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by plague3106 (71849)

          Some issues? You mean like catching fire?

        • by Dr. Hok (702268)

          Look at China now, that's what America was like in the 1960's.

          Americas rivers in the 60's had some issues, but are nothing like the waste we see/have seen in communist countries where people have less power to intervene against the state.

          I don't know about American rivers, but you are definitely right about communist countries: I used to live near the German/German border where the river Elbe flowed from communist East Germany into West Germany. It was a blackish, stinking slush void of life until the wall came down in 1989. Then, most of East German heavy industry quickly collapsed, and sewage treatment plants were built. Consequently, the river cleaned up within a few years. Rare fish returned, people swim again etc.

          But I guess the par

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)
      What can we say? Environmentalism is the new Victorianism. Everyone ties on a green corset and pretends we're virtuous. Here's how I see it. China and other third world "companies" are ideal places to dump the garbage we're too prudish to dump in our own backyards. Personally I think the garbage problem is way overrated. If junk wasn't meant to be thrown away, someone would pay you for it.
      • If junk wasn't meant to be thrown away, someone would pay you for it.

        And I've heard that some Chinese guys have offered to pay for (or paid and got) the rights to "mine" old US landfills (for copper, I think)!

        Liked your Victorianism parallel too! :)

        Paul B.

        • by khallow (566160)
          Thanks! To continue, I think the real reason for the recycling and waste reduction efforts is simply to save the municipality a few bucks. Unfortunately, it happens by passing larger costs on to the residents (eg, you get to spend your time sorting your recyclables so that the city can save a few cents per house). The culmative effect probably is worse environmentally than just throwing the stuff away in a bigger landfill.
      • > Environmentalism is the new Victorianism. Everyone ties on a green corset and pretends we're virtuous.

        Right, that's going to be my new .sig file.

        Thanks!

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:08PM (#26361269)

      Environmentalism has always been about balance. You can't survive and have 0 environmental impact. However it is about making the right trade offs and getting a balance where the earth can heal from our pollutant, but it doesn't hinder progress.

      One can say Visualizing is Green because you can take 3 or 4 servers and run it on 1. However if you just visualized one server your not being green as the extra processing uses more energy.

      You can say don't use computers but to get the work done we will need that much paper. There is even energy wasted in recycling the paper, as well all the driving to move the information on paper to the correct location.

      Even calculating a carbon footprint is rather complex much like processing a Bill of Materials. And finding the most green choice will need an A* algorithm to process it.

  • "...the specific attributes that prompted hi-tech firms to label their products green."

    There is only one attribute needed to label a product 'green'.

    The ability to boost sales in so doing.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:34PM (#26360701) Homepage Journal
    Well, let's see the track record of the biggest consumer electronics green endeavor - lead free solder, enforced under ROHS. It replaces a very small amount of material (lead) which was 85% post consumer recycled content, with silver and tin which are mined from coral reefs. True, the waste when the product is thrown away (in a regulated, lined landfill in a rich green nation) is less toxic. Coral reefs and rain forest mining is a small price to pay. Perhaps we could make even less toxic, "organic" solder from baby seal pelts.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:37PM (#26360739) Homepage

    From TFA:

    "More than half are willing to pay a little more for 'green'," said Mr Koening. "22 percent said they were willing to pay up to 15 percent more for it."

    Green as a marketing gimmick is dangerous. The general idea is that green somehow is more expensive.

    White wine vinegar is a nice natural cleaner, and it's cheap. So is ammonia in water. Why spend so much money on other alternatives?

    Reducing package size is green and it costs less to produce. Why increase the price if cost is lowered?

    If you can recycle all of a manufacturing plant's waste within the plant, you don't need to hire waste disposal, so why increase the price of goods made at the plant?

    Business is constantly trying to get people to buy crap and justify it. Many of them are using the green label to justify their price tag, which is bullshit. In economics, the price of an item is not determined by the cost of the single item, but how much it is in demand, how much supply there is, and how much people perceive it's value. Companies go green because it either saves them money, or because a government tax break or tax penalty makes it more expensive not to go green.

    Do not pay more for green products, demand the current products go green and don't increase their prices. On your own, look for natural alternatives which are just as good and easy to procure, but aren't made by big name brand labels.

    • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:01PM (#26361135)
      Except that green does not mean cheaper in all cases. Some additives to products are plentiful, cheap, and harmful to the environment. Replacing them with to be "Green" and not harmful usually means a replacement additive that is scarce(r) and/or (more) expensive. Food is an excellent example of this. Eating organic foods is excellent for your health, but rather expensive. That fast food cheeseburger, while cheap and tasty, is made from low quality products, fillers, and flavorings.
    • by jav1231 (539129)
      I'm with ya for the most part. However making a plant green costs money. Equipment has to be purchased for dealing with waste etc. The market will bear out if that product is viable and at what price. New Belgium Brewery is one of the greenest plants and is head and shoulders above most breweries. They product is sold at a very competitive price too so it can be done.
    • by Neoprofin (871029)
      The problem is that not all green alternatives are in fact cheaper, especially many that are used in industrial process. Landfilling CRTs is a lot cheaper than recycling them, incinerating hazardous waste is a lot more expensive than putting it in a drum somewhere to forget about it.
      • and say "oh yeah, but what about the externalities like the cost of health care when kids in the neighborhood get lead posioning from the landfill?". Then some snarky jackass cites some Penn & Teller episode that says that CRT's dont have lead in them but instead are a great source of Omega3 (liberal myth) fatty (liberal myth) acids (academic myth) and are actually healthy for children and pets (liberal myth). Then some damn hippie (nixon) jumps in and starts saying we are evil for wasting perfectly

        • by Neoprofin (871029)
          Who pays for it is the biggest problem, clearly you don't want to, and neither do companies or government agencies. The problem is there will be cost to be responsible with them, period. There is no market for resale, no real hope for reuse*, and nothing of value in them that can be harvested to make them break even. Thankfully there has been a lot of backlash against the practice of off-shoring all of our waste, and companies are now seeing it as a marketable point to spend the extra money to have it done
    • by radtea (464814)

      Reducing package size is green and it costs less to produce. Why increase the price if cost is lowered?

      The problem is that faux environmentalists have for decades tried to convince people to change they way they live based on a kind of puritanical moral argument. They want people to change to become supposedly more morally pure through self-sacrifice, but they don't have the guts to say that--instead they hide behind the genuine need to protect the environment.

      This propaganda campaign has been so successfu

  • Give me tons of money, or I'm chopping down this frakking tree!!!!!

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:38PM (#26360761)

    I'm all for being a good steward of the environment (that probably gives you a good hint as to my worldview, too).

    But when it comes to "green," unless we're talking about dumping pollutants into various ponds, lakes, and oceans, the primary thing that I would be interested in "green" about is monetary. Like most things.

    Specifically, if it uses less electricity, power, etc., and I don't need it to use more, that's a Good Thing (tm). For example, light bulbs. Unless it's a reading light (I don't like the "weird" light when I'm reading), the electricity-saving bulbs are nice on my electricity bill. I assume the same about other large appliances, though I haven't had to buy one yet.

    But the "green" craze that companies seem to be going through is kind of annoying. Sort of like the organic fad. I'm actually into the organic food stuff (read: anti-hormone, somewhat against certain GMO stuff, not a fan of ingesting pesticides, and organically grown food usually tastes better, too), but the rich-posh-styling-trendy organic thing (the typical Trader Joes or Whole Foods crowd) is silly. A trendy, posh thing is one thing; a good reason to do it is another. I prefer good reasons over trends. Fashionable organic food or fashionable "green" consumer items are usually silly and overpriced, it seems. Like most lemming-reaction trends.

  • Unless the person has never had a computer or does not know where they can get a used one the new ones are not going to off set the energy of disposal of the old one and creation of the new one. I believe that this applies to just about any commodity.

    To be really green I think that they should take in the {insert thing name here} for disposal / recycle, and show the true cost like a sticker on a hot water heater shows the energy usage.

    People are way too busy patting themselves on the back driving their Pri

  • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:03PM (#26361181)
    The products folks are clamoring for to be green are because "going green" saves them money; which is really what consumers are concerned about. CFLs are huge right now because in some markets (e.g. Southern California) they are cheaper than incandescent lighting and reduce ones electric bill, even if only by a small margin. "Green" cars were in when gas was $4.00/gal, but now that prices have fallen, I'm seeing more and more 07-08 Priuses having been traded in. Those buyers weren't "true believer" green purchasers, they just felt being "green" would be cheaper in the form of lower engergy costs. When driving a 17mpg car became cheaper than the car payments on a hybrid or the maintainence (having to go to the dealer for service) folks are now unloading them (I'm car shopping and have seen a big raise in the number of used hybrids available; part of which may be that they are just becoming more common and the 3-year/car dirvers are now starting to move to their next purchase).

    I think the however that a small part of them that feels like they are doing the "right thing", because it does seem when two products are the same in price and quality the green one is chosen; but it is definately secondary for most people. I'd say the best test for that was to see how many consumers would but the more expensive product that was identical except the "green" bottle was $.10 or $.50 or $1.00 more; particularly for consumer goods that don't have other buying decision reasons such as being "organic" like food.

    Companies love it because like the consumer, it saves them money, particularly when they can sell the product for more money "because it is green" when it cost them less to make it, or pass the savings on to the customer and beat their competitor at the price game. It is a win-win in either scenario; and gets their foot in the door with the truly eco-conscience consumer who may never have bought form X vendor due to their environmental history. In this case, lip-service is still service.
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:10PM (#26361309) Homepage Journal
    I had lunch last week with a former colleague who is now working for a company that does setup and support for data centers all over the country. The conversation of course at one point went to "green computing".

    He told me that the most common application for "green computing" that companies request is to help with heat management. In particular companies in climates that need regular heating are moving their datacenters to the lowest floor possible to try to re-use the heat from the servers on higher floors.

    In short, a big part of "green computing" right now comes down to (moving) hot air.

    Which of course many of us IT guys have been good at for many, many year already.
    • by cowscows (103644)

      I think you're posting that just because it makes for a sort of silly anecdote, but it illustrates an interesting point. There are a bunch of different levels of "being green," and some of the easier levels to reach are really just simple matters of planning. Reusing waste heat is a great idea, doesn't require any new technology, and if you're planning a new data center, it doesn't intrinsically cost any more money than your previous way of doing things.

      You don't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars t

  • Suddenly big business is concerned about the environment? Doubtful. "Green" is only fashionable because it's a way of simultaneously having your PR people crow about saving the environment while your number crunchers are busy trying to save as much money as possible on energy consumption. If the price of energy were not rising, there would be no "green" initiatives.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:40PM (#26361783) Homepage

    The truly "green" products are those that aren't made to begin with.

    Reducing global human population growth would go far further at conserving the environment than all this "green" nonsense combined.

    Ron

    • by cowscows (103644)

      People aren't going to stop having kids, and people aren't going to stop using technology to extend their lives. Survival and reproduction are the two most fundamental biological impulses that humans have. Reducing global population growth sounds like a good idea on paper, but any efforts to forcefully do so are immoral at best.

      But even ignoring that fact, I don't think you're right that it'd be more efficient. It's true that history has generally shown that as standards of living increase, population growt

  • > ... that prompted hi-tech firms to label their products green.

    Only one.
    That attribute that causes some feely-types to part with more of their "green" so they can feel good about themselves for helping to save the Earth.

    It's just an appeal to narcissism. Advertisers and marketers have been doing this for a long, long time.

  • Apple calls their new unibody Macbooks "the greenest Macbook ever". That might be true relatively speaking.

    But what Apple don't tell you is that they routinely ship units backwards and forwards across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to prioritise for US demand.

    For example, a New Zealand Apple retailer told my associate that Apple will often recall all NZ stock back to the USA if they run low on stock there. So this means the "green" Macbook you buy in, say, New York City may have flown across the Pacific at

    • NZ's just like every other country in that we can buy a PC that is more powerful for half the cost. Only the apple fanbois are cut.
  • When customers want their car green, the manufacturer will paint them green. Probably with lead.

  • I understand the concept of conserving energy, substituting less toxic materials, increasing ease of recycling, reducing weight = less fuel burned, etc.

    However, corporations have to tread a fine line. There are plenty of ways we could be reducing our impact on the planet, but they run right up against things like profit and the overall health of the economy. Consumers might change their tune if they knew that REALLY going green might mean they lose their jobs.

    Let's say you have two cities. In city A, everyo

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