We love technology. We love it so much that we start thinking about our next purchase, looking out for the latest in mobile phone, computing, or music technology, almost immediately after our most recent purchase. Thanks to people like us, a hungry demand for new technology has been accelerating the pace of product development and technological change. The tech industry loves us!
BUT, some of us love Mother Nature too, and our monster appetite for all things new and improved in techie toys is having a considerable environmental impact by feeding landfills/waste treatment plants etc and poisoning our soil, water and air. The fastest growing waste stream in the UK is apparently that of electrical goods. So what is a self-respecting technology lover to do?
I ask because I stumbled across a website recently called http://www.lastyearsmodel.org which does what it says on the tin, i.e. promotes holding onto your gadgets and resisting the allure of upgrading before extracting the maximum value and pleasure out of your existing technology. Apparently there is a growing movement towards being a late adopter. Historically techie laggards were thought of as poor and lacking a critical level of intelligence but now according to an article in The Independent (16th Sept 09 edition) a growing number of educated people with means are choosing to make a such a stand on principle.
Will personal concern over environmental impacts be a major influence in the purchasing behaviour of the average technology-loving consumer? I don’t think so. It may have enough influence to arouse small feelings of guilt but not enough to stop us from upgrading whenever we want. For the health of the planet to be a significant factor when deciding whether or not to upgrade there would need to be an effective and coordinated marketing and communications effort to deliver a coherent and sensible message – specifically about upgrading – to techie consumers about the extent to which our purchasing habits are having a negative environmental impact.
I think our upgrade culture is a reflection of something greater. It represents our inability to focus on and extract the maximum utility and pleasure in NOW – from our current jobs, current relationships, current lifestyles, current toys and tools. We’re often looking off into the future (near or far) in search of that happy feeling and driven towards the next thing whether it be a purchase – a bigger or better music system/car/house/ etc – a relationship, a job, a lifestyle…
There’s nothing wrong in looking for the next thing to have but it would suck to wake up at the ripe old age of 85 to find that happiness and contentment eluded you as you could never fully enjoy what you had because of what you wanted.