Reduce your footprint with netbooks


electric_industrial_195669GigaOM has published an interesting article that points out Why Netbooks Are Greener Than Laptops.  The reduced power needs of netbooks compared to their larger siblings certainly makes them greener but this article is the first that takes a look at how green netbooks are.  Many of us are trying to see what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint these days and it’s only common sense that netbooks can help in that regard.



I hardly think that the little extra power savings from an atom makes a netbook any more ‘green’ than any other laptop. First, there are all the other components which still use a considerable amount of power. Cell phones consume even less power than netbooks. Does that make them even more green? Furthermore, the power that laptops consume is already minuscule in comparison to almost any other device we use—light bulbs, TVs, etc.

Second, and more importantly, is the “disposable” and “consumer” mindset with with netbooks are or will be viewed by many. Since netbooks are cheap, the price will be less of a hurdle to overcome in deciding to buy a new one (or yet another one). We’ve already seen millions of netbooks sold as replacements or additions to current computing devices. Each new netbook requires that many more resources to manufacture, and for every old computer replaced, those computers must be disposed of somehow–probably in a landfill. The overturn of these netbooks maybe possibly be increased compared to traditional laptops, using more resources.

Though I’m not suggesting that the manufacturing of netbooks be stopped, I think it’s spurious to say that netbooks are “green” because they consume a little less power than their big brothers. Sure, power savings does help, and the “only buy what you need” mindset is *undeniably* crucial to any hope for a environmentally friendly society. However, I would question how many people truly *need* netbooks, or if their current devices would suffice a little longer; I would question whether there may be other choices in lifestyle or consumption, on the personal and corporate levels, which could have a larger impact on our “greenness.” Of course, credit is due to those who ask these questions.


Admittedly I only skimmed over that article, but it seems like there are some flaws in that logic.

1. I used to have one laptop, now I have two. My Thinkpad now stays at home in my docking station if I am out and about with my 2133. But that doesn’t mean I shut it down (maybe I should). So now I am idling my TP at home while I type away on my ‘green’ HP at Starbucks (oh yeah, and how did I get to Starbucks in the first place?)

2. Less shipping due to lower weight? Hah! I had one machine, now I have two. How did that save on shipping (and the related carbon footprint)? Given that most people consider Netbooks a secondary machine, to me that just means more packages get shipped around the world as everyone and their uncle now has two computers, the real one and that little toy one for Starbucks ;)

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