Recycling IT hardware is a bad idea. Using and refurbishing old hardware with new software will save you considerably, as I pointed out in two previous blogs, Buying IT second hand and Extending hardware life-cycle. It might however also 'green' your IT actions, saving the environment! How? Read on.
Green IT is one of the new hypes. You're really supposed to do something, and add a paragraph on your environmental efforts to your qualifications and business reports. Well, to be sure, you should make environmental issues a major factor in your life and business.
Many IT companies try to cater for your worries by providing IT hardware that uses (much) less power, creating less heat and less CO2. So, to help the environment you are supposed to exchange your hardware set-up, often a lot earlier than foreseen. That is contrary to my concept of extending the hardware life-cycle. Is it not?
I will forego repeating myself, read the blog. But it might be interesting to consider the following.
Environmental savings and smarter software do combine very well, but in an unexpected way.
Buying new hardware means building new hardware. Building hardware means digging for ore with an emphasis on rare earth metals, building other machines to build chips, build cables, build circuit boards, organising transport from ore site to manufacturing site, from factory to factory and from factory to store or storage. And then to your office site or shop. And then removing and scrapping the old but usable hardware. Getting rid of poisonous parts. I have not yet seen a scientifically sound calculation of the ecological footprint for building one desktop computer, but I guess it is rather large.
The build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is certainly not the only environmental issue, it is not just energy consumption. Wish that was true. Any manufacturing means destroying the planet, one way or the other. Replacing and scrapping any old hardware also has environmental impact.
Not replacing old hardware but re-using it intensely might be much more friendly to our children's world. And that means: start using smarter, smaller, cheaper software. Less unused functions. Reducing processor, memory, disk and network load. Technically a computer's power will not lessen, only the software updates use up more and more power and space. Reduce the financial depreciation rate, from let's say three to six or ten years. That lessens the environmental threat of scrapping by half or more. Get smart!
Stop recycling your outdated hardware! Like old but good shoes, give your hardware a second life by installing new, smart and cheap open source software. Start today!