Bamboo Encased Computers: A Help or Hindrance to Greener Electronics?
As part of the eco-friendlienss factor that computer manufacturers are implementing in their designs is bamboo and wood-cased computers. Feeling the pressure both from consumers and from each other, the greenness of a computer plays in to the current acceptance level of a manufacturers new products…well, at least in part.
But we are curious about what it means to use a resource like wood for products that have become nearly disposable. Does it help or hinder the lifetime of the product, and the life cycle of forests?We’ve seen a few bamboo-encased notebooks and computers come out. The Asus is beautiful (but not all that special of a laptop) and the Dell Studio Hybrid, with its many eco-factors, also has a bamboo case as an option.. We’ve also seen Fujitsu use forest-thinned cedar as a case for its notebook.
Looking at these options, it seems like two conclusions can be drawn. One is that using renewably sourced wood - especially bamboo - for casing doesn’t play a huge role in the functionality of a computer. It is still up to the manufacturer to make a high-quality, energy-efficient product that incorporates other eco-friendly elements before we can tout it as really meant for TreeHuggers. Wood vs plastic is not the be-all-end-all of the move towards eco-consciousness.
But, here is the second point – it seems that a wood casing could go far in helping a computer’s life cycle last just a bit longer. Wood has the feel of importance, of quality – it harkens back to when things were made with love, care and craftsmanship. And while this is a bit of a stretch for the above computers with their rather sleek-looking cases, there is the potential of a pull on the heartstrings at the idea of tossing out a beautiful wooden product, rather than the nonchalance consumers have for tossing out the everyday cheap plastic stuff.
So, while we have to think about the earth-friendliness of a computer as the sum of all it’s parts – recyclability, quality, energy efficiency, manufacturer ethics, carbon footprint – we can also appreciate when it is made out of materials that look and feel closer to the Earth. It helps to remind us that yes, indeed, we’re using the Earth’s resources when we flip open our laptops, but maybe we’re that much less of a burden.