Greening a Computer Store at KU (Guest Post)

This is a guest post was written by Bobby Grace, a student in Professor Simran Sethi’s Media and the Environment course at the University of Kansas originally published this to the course blog on March 9, 2008.

Photo: Gerard Lemos, flickr
I work the computer store on campus, The Tech Shop. I can sell two or three computers in a day and a lot more during back-to-school times. For a long time, I was satisfied by simply providing useful technology to students at great prices.
Sales schtick aside, people want computers. That is, people need computers. E-mail is a valid form of communication at KU and papers are expected to be submitted electronically. Around finals time, it can be a pain to find a computer in one of our computer labs. People need computers.
Following Moore’s Law, a computer three years in age will be four times as slow as a new computer. This is theoretical of course, but as computers become more affordable, more people are replacing their old ones. The stack of out-of-use computers adds up.

I wrote a post on the death bed of electronics and wondered what The Tech Shop could do about this. We now have an e-waste recycling program up and running. We work with KU Recycling who manages an extensive program for campus buildings.
There is more we are doing. All packing material, from cardboard to bubble-wrap, gets reused by our catalog department or compacted and recycled. We now carry the Grove line of computer bags from Targus. These bags are PVC-free, nickel-free and totally recyclable. Apple has steadily been updating their computers to make them more eco-conscious by using LED-backlit, mercury-free displays, PVC-free internal cables, and recyclable aluminum casings. As an Apple Campus Store, we are happy to offer these products.
I would like to see PVC-free bags and cabling, mercury-free displays, and less packaging in products throughout the electronics industry, but it’s not a perfect world. We’re just doing our part to make a difference.
I had to say that, sorry.
Bobby Grace

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