The computer industry is by its nature wasteful of natural resources. A computer may last for a number of years, but have you ever heard of recycling a dead computer? Some companies are trying to reduce waste, most notably Hewlett-Packard, which isn’t too surprising considering that David Packard’s daughter, Julie, is a prominent environmentalist. HP announced a toner cartridge recycling program a few months ago that recycles cartridges from people who would otherwise throw their cartridges away. PC WEEK has run articles on what Apple does to recycle paper and other goods used in general office life, and cited amazing figures – Apple recycled over 365 tons of paper, 600 pounds of aluminum, and 4.6 tons of glass from last October to this April.
More recently, though, MacConnection has started to do its part and in a way many of us will see. The company has stopped using styrofoam peanuts as packaging material, moving instead to better sized boxes and newsprint, which can be recycled. (Ever wonder what the half-life of a styrofoam peanut is? I figure the cockroaches will be living in them after the human race has gone by the wayside.)
The only use we found for peanuts was to stuff them into a large beanbag we got from an old housemate. With use, the peanuts gradually crunch down and make room for new ones as new packages arrive. It works well, although the Poof was a bit full after we ordered a keyboard from MacWarehouse that came in box the size of a 19" television, chock full of pink peanuts. In any event, hats off to MacConnection for taking a stand on the issue. They even included the book "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth" in the bag of software we bought at Macworld. Admittedly, it was a big bag and we bought small software so there was lots of room, but we were surprised and pleased to find the book.
Another way to preserve natural resources is to avoid using them. That was one of the motivations behind the distribution methods we use for TidBITS. Short of a small amount of electricity that would probably be used anyway and the occasional disk, the only resource TidBITS uses is time, and we don’t think of the time as wasted. The other advantage is that costs are low, something which Delta Tao Software found with its Polly MacBeep. Like shareware programs, you only get a disk. No fancy packaging, no shrink-wrap, no printed manual. Delta Tao was able to sell Polly MacBeep for $10 (even numbered prices are pleasantly refreshing), which is less than many shareware fees, although Delta Tao does get its money up front and thus probably makes more.
Adam C. Engst — TidBITS Editor
PC WEEK — 16-Jul-90, Vol. 7 #28, pg. 117
PC WEEK — 30-Jul-90, Vol. 7 #30, pg. 117