With the mainstreaming of everything green lately, we have heard a lot of noise from PC makers as they unveil their latest environmental campaigns. Although Apple and Dell have gotten more exposure, HP and the other major players are also taking action. As we read through the fine print, we realize that these initiatives mainly consist of highly essential but somewhat boring stuff: (apple) finally phasing out the most toxic chemicals such as Brominated Fire Retardants and PVC, (Dell) finally launches a comprehensive recycling service, (HP) delivers their first gold rated EPEAT product (not very innovative as far as design). My point is that there isn’t really much to get excited about, most of these steps taken are expected and pretty basic, non of them really step out of the green box and delve into sustainability.
Recycling services and responsible materials should quickly become industry requirements, but who will be the first to actually gamble on a change of paradigm, who will take the first major plunge into redefining what a PC could be. Where can we look for a broader spectrum of creativity within the “transition towards sustainability” that the computer industry must undertake?
Enter the annual Microsoft/IDSA Next-Gen PC design Competition. I dug around the entries to filter out some more inspirational examples of what a sustainable personal computer alternative could be like in the near future.
The BulbPC sports a very interesting form factor and is designed to be a sustainable computing solution by encouraging enterprise on a local community and village scale. All the components can be made from readily-available materials like up-cycled aluminum. The minimalistic design makes it highly versatile and can be easily built or disassembled by hand and a standard soldering iron.
The hu-bi concept consists of re-using discarded PC components that may be obsolete in developed countries and reassembling them into modular PC’s for poorer developing countries. Even the casing can be made from recycled older PC’s. This concept would force a lot of e-waste back into an industrial cycle giving new life to otherwise discarded parts