CES 2009: It's a Wrap! A Review of TreeHugger's Trip to CES

ces front of las vegas convention center photo

In wrapping up TreeHugger's trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, we wanted to review the ups and downs of the green presence at the trade show.

Read on for a recap of everything we saw at CES this year.

The Green Presence at CES Booths

Everyone Has an Eco-Corner
There were eco-corners galore, and most major gadget makers wanted to show to at least a small extent how they too are greening up. While quite a bit of it was green lip service, we're hoping that at least a few of the manufacturers we spoke with are earnest about the commitment to sustainability they had on display.

Hiding the Green Gadgets
Having a green side was definitely a theme here at CES, but it doesn't mean greener gadgets had any sort of priority. In fact, it was hard to even find them. It took a lot of searching and asking a lot of confused CES staffers before I finally found the new location of the Sustainable Planet zone, which was disappointingly small. The LG booth next door was bigger than this entire zone. And it was mostly full of solar devices, rather than really cutting edge green gadgets. It was certainly didn't live up to the hype in the literature.

There was green elsewhere in the tradeshow, though, you just had to hunt. In other sections we found booths for things like new HYmini chargers, iGO green technology, some neat ZigBee enabled devices for home energy management. It just took keeping your eyes sharp so that you could be sure to spot the green.

Spotting the Greenwash
And of course, sort out the greenwashing. There was plenty of that as well. Fuji's EnviroMAX batteries to Motorola's Renew phone were on the more blatant side, while other booths like Eco-Mount and Thermapak were slightly less guilty, though we can still say it's greenwashing. There is definitely a green bandwagon trolleying around and companies are hopping on right and left. The abundance of little green leaves on literature and "eco" this, "eco" that illustrates it. It'll take a lot to sort out what's real and not, but thankfully we have organizations like Greenpeace here helping us wade through it all.

How Green was CES?

Getting Around Las Vegas And as for CES itself. Boy, they sure did want to say they're greener this year. With a tradeshow of this magnitude, it's understandable for some aspects of green to be left out for the sake of cheap convenience, but there was a lot of room for improvement. The shuttle system was incredibly efficient, but they could have hired on green transportation like bio-diesel or electric hybrid shuttles, rather than pollution spewing buses.

Recycling Versus Waste

i found recycling bins at CES photo

While I did manage to find a few recycling bins lining one corridor, these were few and far between.

plastic lunch box bioplastic photo

And lunches, while it utilized bioplastic as a supposedly greener option, were still ridiculously over packaged, and a whole lot of waste was generated because of them.

lunch box trash can photo

Coffee was offered...but it was Starbucks, with stacks of paper cups and plastic lids that were scattered every which way by day's end. You couldn't turn around without being faced with a pile of water bottles, and while they did have drinking stations, they were adorned with plastic cups, rather than paper or - even better - a note on where to find a reusable water container.

water cooler with plastic cups photo

Only one booth - Nokia - was handing out reusable water bottles that I could find, but on the other hand, nearly every booth was giving out reusable bags. There was hardly a plastic bag to be seen, and the only paper ones spotted were from HP and they were on racks throughout the conference for attendees' convenience.

Up and Down the Tradeshow Floor
The escalators were well used, while the stairs were left neglected, which was a bit disappointing to see.

escalators at ces photo

Even in the morning and mid-day when energy levels should be relatively high, nearly no one used the stairs - not even for heading to lower floors. It's understandable but disappointing that more people weren't taking the ever so slightly greener option of hoofing it. It would have been really cool if CES got the renewable energy bug that LG was demonstrating on a small scale, and powered at least a portion of the hall such as the escalators with solar.

Finding People Who Care About Green
And finally, while there were a whole heck of a lot of people here who couldn't care less about being environmentally friendly, cutting down on energy use, and recycling, there were plenty of people here who did indeed care - from Greenpeace to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition to booths like eco TakeBack and Recellular. At lease there was some exposure for conference goers to the notion that green is good.

There was even just a bit of wild green at the show.

parrot at ces photo

It nearly got kicked out, but with enough hubbub from the owner, it got to stay.

Read on for:
CES, Corporations, and Going Green
Solar and Take Back Programs
Charging Up Gadgets and Vampire Power-Killing Gadgets
Cool and Uncool Products, and Videos from CES

CES 2009: It's a Wrap! A Review of TreeHugger's Trip to CES
In wrapping up TreeHugger's trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, we wanted to review the ups and downs of the green presence at the trade show.

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