Sustainable Technology

April 15th, 2007 by k8gu Leave a reply »

I’ve decided to make a more conscious effort to obtain (buy, barter, etc) used electronics. Of course, this is at odds with being an electrical engineer in some sense. But, I’ve gotten a certain amount of joy out of scrounging and repairing used radios, test equipment, and computers. Furthermore, I believe it amounts to good stewardship of time and resources.

Byproducts of the semiconductor manufacturing process are extremely hazardous. Progress has been made in recycling and minimizing waste. However, scrap devices usually contain significant quantities of lead, mercury, and other nasty stuff. There is no reason to throw this stuff out if it still serves a useful purpose.

Perhaps most important to a lifestyle of sustainable technology is the process of purchasing it. Is the new device necessary? Do I have an outlet for disposing the one it replaces? For a brief period, I was down to two computers (a notebook and a desktop). That number has blossomed to three of each. I suppose it’s time to re-evaluate this situation. (In all fairness, two of them were obtained through marriage.)

I’m satisfied with a couple of 5-10 year-old computers, 10-20 year-old ham radio gear, and 20+ year-old test equipment. I hope that even after it becomes a financial reality to replace them with brand new equipment, that I can remember to be sustainable.

(One exception to this is the inevitable day that the current AC power distribution system is outclassed by something better and more efficient. Think of the mess that’s going to cause!)