A friend of mine recalls growing up having just one good pair of shoes, which was intended to last until he outgrew them and handed them down to a littler brother. No, he’s not an octogenarian, and no, he did not grow up in extreme poverty. One very serviceable pair of shoes is all one really needed, and so his family put the emphasis very squarely on quality versus quantity.
I was reminded of this when I got an email from a friend and former colleague responding to my blog, Swimming Upstream. Bill Robertson spent some 15 years pricing used IT assets for one of the legacy companies that is now part of Arrow’s Value Recovery Business. Bill posited that one way to keep computers upstream longer (before sending them downstream for recycling) might be to purchase better computers to begin with.
Bill writes, “If the corporations bought at the very highest level price point rather than buying in the middle price points for computers, there are immediate positives to be benefited.” He cites:
- – The company will be able to use the computers longer, meaning fewer purchases.
- – When the computer is replaced, it has a higher value in the secondary market.
- – If the higher cost to the organization is actually the cost of support, buying more reliable computers could actually lower the total cost of ownership.
“Keeping a computer longer in the upstream by buying the best today would lead to [fewer] computers being produced if you can add an additional year of use,” Bill concludes.
And I agree. I recently filled out a survey from Consumer Reports asking about appliances I’ve purchased: how long I’ve had them, how much service they’ve required, how long I expect to keep them. I’ve had my refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer for more than seven years. None has required maintenance of any kind. I plan to keep them indefinitely. Imagine if I could say the same for my electronics.
“Preposterous,” you say? Not if we intentionally slow our consumption by choosing the better product with the idea that it will last longer and work better. Patagonia trades on the motto “Don’t buy our products, repair old ones.” Some of our customers are making their data center equipment last longer by letting us supply the necessary parts and know-how – a win for their bottom line and for the planet as well. Not preposterous if we design with ease of repair and upgrade in mind.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about how you’re extending the life of your electronics. I love hearing your thoughts.
Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business, promoting sustainability awareness and action. She is the lead author of Green IT for Dummies. Her particular focus is on electronics at the IT asset disposition stage, e-waste and everything connected to them. Follow her on Twitter @carol_baroudi, and connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carolbaroudi.