The ethical laptop

Ms. Theologian (Surviving the Workday) and I will be team blogging over the next little while about getting an ethical laptop. We each have our own needs — size, operating system — and comfort points, but I think we’re agreed that it should be ethically produced. In particular — correct me if I’m misrepresenting — she wants one with no Chinese manufactured parts, while I want one with few or no parts made in countries with abusive labor laws or environmental controls. I might have concerns about the US retailer — again, fair with a bias towards green or small business — she doesn’t.

Perhaps we can shake out some thinking points and resources, rather than say “buy this perfect model.”

Why laptops? Because they’re

  • becoming very, very common
  • may be a source of toxins in their manufacture and disposal
  • are usually sourced from places that have dubious work conditions
  • expensive

This last point is important. We can talk about fair-trade chocolate (and should) but the economic heft behind choosing an ethically-sourced and green(er) laptop — or desktop computer, cell phone, car or house — makes more of an impact than putting constant effort into questioning smaller purchases.

Or to flip the maxim, take care of the dollars then the pennies later. (I’d like to build a buying guide for lower priced ethical shopping — with rationales and alternatives — perhaps later.)

Lastly, Michelle Murrain and I had a similar conversation about used laptops, which might interest you and which I’ll surely reference. Start here to read that.

4 Replies to “The ethical laptop”

  1. That sounds about right to me though, I’m not a purist. And I like the idea of evaluating a number of different points rather than making a flat recommendation. Besides, whenever I flat out recommend something, I find out that it’s greenwashed in some fashion and made in China by babies.

  2. How did you get on with your quest to find an ethical laptop? I have been looking around for a new laptop recently, and been quite tempted by the new iPad. The main factors I had been weighing up were price and features until I read an article about working conditions in the main Acer/HP/Apple factory in Shenzen, China, which sound appalling (see below). Now I would really like to find a Fair Trade laoptop, if such a thing exists…

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