What to buy if you’re compelled towards holiday consumerism, yet feel just a twinge of guilt when you pick out the latest hot-pink cell phone or the must-have computer game-console?
Fear not, dear consumer. Greenpeace just released its “Guide to Greener Electronics.” Although the truly greener thing would be to hang on to the old phone or out-dated uncool game device until the bitter end, and then choose not to replace - that's a bit idealistic these days. At the very least, you can now figure out how to recycle the thing, and perhaps replace it with a more environmentally friendly model.
Ratings are based on reduction of hazardous materials (and intent to reduce hazardous chemicals in the future) in production and ease of recycling. Criteria include elimination or phase-out of persistent organic flame-retardants such as polybrominated biphenyls, producer take-back programs and transparent information on amounts of recycled product. What’s not clear is if recycling practices (what happens once they collect the stuff) are evaluated as well.
One particularly useful feature of the report are the links to recycling programs for each brand. So, by following the links I could finally print out a Waybill for that Dell computer I threatened to send back to Michael Dell several years back - but then decided it wasn't worth spending another dollar on that lemon. Every major component had to be replaced before its second birthday. It has spent the last two years hiding under our futon couch just waiting for this moment. Though I’d never again buy a Dell, they ranked pretty high with a 7.3 on the 10-point scale. That places them in a tie, for fourth highest score. The loser was Nintendo with an astounding ZERO points!