With climate change and environmental sustainability at the forefront of many people’s minds, it’s understandable that we want to do our part and buy eco-friendly products. However, the latest and greatest green gadgets often come with a hefty price tag and may not be as eco-friendly as they seem. In many cases, sticking to tried and true basics is the better option both for your wallet and the planet. In this article, I’ll go over some reasons why the latest eco-gadgets may not be worth it and provide tips for sticking to the basics.
The Problem with Eco-Gadget Hype
New eco-friendly gadgets seem to hit the market daily, all with lofty claims and premium price tags. Terms like “sustainable“, “organic“, and “fair trade” adorn packaging and promotional materials. However, just because something is marketed as eco-friendly doesn’t mean it lives up to the hype. Here are some issues with relying on eco-gadgets:
Short Product Lifecycles
Many new gadgets have short lifecycles before the next model comes out. This leads to waste as people discard the old model to get the newest features. Short lifecycles aren’t very sustainable.
Lots of Plastic Packaging
Eco-gadgets often come wrapped in lots of plastic clamshell packaging that gets tossed after opening. This negates some of the gadget’s green benefits.
Made Using Dirty Energy
Most new gadgets depend on materials sourced and manufacturing powered by fossil fuels. The carbon footprint may not be as low as promised.
Expensive Price Tags
Green gadgets are often premium-priced, sometimes costing 2-3x similar non-eco options. Not everyone can afford high-end eco-friendly gear.
Are They Really Needed?
Many eco-gadgets provide unnecessary functions or duplicates of items people already own. More consumption of resources is never the greenest option.
Benefits of Sticking to the Basics
Rather than getting caught up in the latest eco-hype, going back to basics is often the most sustainable and budget-friendly option. Here are some benefits of using tried and true items versus new green gadgets:
Basic products that have been around a long time are often reasonably priced, especially if you can find used versions. You avoid expensive price tags on new gadgets.
Since basic items have been around a while, you can often get them secondhand. This reduces waste and environmental impact.
Old fashioned basics made of wood, metal, ceramic, cloth and other natural materials tend to be higher quality and last longer than new plastic gadgets.
Basics allow you to avoid single use gadgets and accomplish more with fewer items. A sturdy box can organize, a cloth bag can carry all sorts of things.
Easy to Repair
Basic items tend to have simple construction that makes DIY repairs possible. This extends usefulness and avoids the waste of replacement.
Tips for Avoiding Eco-Gadget Hype
Here are some tips to help identify when the latest eco-gadgets may not be worth it and what proven basics to choose instead:
Evaluate if you really need it
Before buying any new product, eco-friendly or not, scrutinize whether it solves an actual problem you have or just seems like a cool new invention. More stuff usually isn’t the answer.
See if you can reuse what you already have
Take stock of items you already own that may be able to meet your needs creatively. Turn t-shirts into cleaning rags or reuse pasta sauce jars to store leftovers.
Opt for natural, basic materials
Choose items made of wood, metal, glass, and natural fibers which tend to have lower environmental impact than plastic fantastic gadgets.
Seek out quality secondhand versions
Search thrift stores, garage sales, and online listings for well-made used basics. This keeps existing items in use and avoids new production.
Make your own when possible
Get creative to DIY solutions using basic ingredients and materials you likely already have around the house. Homemade cleaners, reusable food wraps, and more can replace specialty gear.
Evaluate claims critically
Do research on any eco-marketing statements like “organic” or “fair trade” to see if the claims really hold up or just appeal to emotions.
The latest and greatest eco-gadgets may seem appealing, but they often come with drawbacks like high prices, short lifespans, lots of packaging and questionable claims. In many cases, sticking to tried and true basics made of quality materials can be better for your budget and the environment. Carefully evaluate each potential new purchase and get creative about reusing what you already have. Sometimes going old school is the way to go green. What eco-friendly basics will you try to incorporate more in your daily life?