Are our insatiable appetites for the latest technology the last nail in the coffin for sustainability?
If you popped into your local PC World last year, the display aisle dedicated to Tablets would have consisted of a foot. Now you can not fail to notice the mile-long parade of not-quite-but-nearly-palm-sized tablets, promising fast and flexible networking, information and augmentation of your lifestyle.
Next generation technology turnaround and launch into the market is increasingly quicker. These fractionally better versions relegate their predecessors to either recycling , the drawer or more likely the dustbin. However, when these devices have been manufactured with a pitifully short one-year guarantee, what other choice would one have other than to fork out for a new one? Insurance would be just as expensive and after weighing up the costs and benefits after buying my new laptop, it turned out I would be financially better off if I did forego the insurance and bought a new 'up-to-date' laptop when it inevitably conked out.
As I gazed upon this dazzling display of digital devices I could not help but wonder what kind of culture these tablets are perpetuating. Is their true purpose to fulfil a demand for one device for all purposes, or are they another gadget that can be used to bolster one's ego and social status?
In an age of land choked with rubbish dumps and clutter, why is there not firm legislation demanding that companies create devices to last? Surely a long-term sustainability strategy would involve designing devices that are intelligently designed. Devices which can withstand a year's worth of constant usage, that are updateable (both hardware and software). We have the second-hand market yes, swarming with a thousand Dells for every other make of computer, but a shiny version for a few extra quid is always tempting.
Then again, maybe we, the consumer need to reform our intentions to steer companies. After all, the latest MacBook Pro is probably the equivalent of the last generation's Ferrari . It's less-is-more visage is at odds with its status of ultimate luxury. I imagine this Christmas consumer spending will be used yet again as a barometer for the nation's current status. Should we be confident if consumer spending has increased? Will this not be a sign of us reverting back to unsustainable habits? The recession challenged us to take stock of what we had, instead of what we perceived ourselves to need. Home-made gifts became popular and make-do-and-mend culture was ironically du jour in the fashion world (fair-isle jumper anyone?).
Our world is one of pitiful extremes. Famine, poverty, war...and a store full of people wiling away their afternoon deciding which piece of technology they 'need'. Buy your tablets I say, just take good care of it and make it last.