An activist guide to reform the computer industry

A Better Upgrade, Not a Faster Throw-Away
An activist guide to minimizing the social and environmental
impact of computers and reforming the industry


  • Living in a World of Planned Obsolescence and Over-Consumption
  • Environmental and Social Impact of Computers
  • The Hazardous Disposal and Recycling of Computers
  • Minimizing the Harm of your Computer
  • Buying Products Certified with an Eco-Label
  • Software to Save your old Computer and the Environment
  • Free Software as an Anti-globalization Movement
  • Free Formats to Liberate Information
  • Recent Movements to Reform the Computer Hardware Industry
  • The Importance of Government in Mandating Change
  • Why Extended Producer Responsibility is Needed
  • Now is the Time to Get Involved
  • Suggested Reading
  • Appendix A: Growth in Personal Computers
  • Appendix B: Computer Energy Use
  • Appendix C: Computer Recycling
  • Appendix D: Hazardous Substances
  • Appendix E: Free Software in MS-Windows
  • Notes

More than any other technology of recent date, the computer has become the quintessence of modern society. Computers have transformed how we work, communicate, and entertain ourselves. Computers fill our homes, our workplaces, and our imaginations in a way that few technologies do. We spend much of our lives in constant contact with computers. If we are not in front of a monitor screen, we are likely to be found with cars, stereos, TVs, and toys which have computer chips embedded inside. Perhaps the very ubiquity of the computer in our lives causes us to loose sight of the social and environmental impacts of our beloved technology. In our minds, computers are the stuff of modernity–the clean and efficient purveyors of information and entertainment which makes our lives rich. We rarely question the costs of this technology, even when we reach into our pocketbooks to buy another. With increasing voraciousness we consume new computers and junk them just as rapidly.

When confronted with your suddenly outmoded PC, the first question you should ask yourself is not what type of new computer to buy next, but why do we live in a world where the technology which was so shiny and new a couple years ago is now the junk poisoning our planet. We should be asking ourselves if we truly need a new computer every couple years and what will each new computer allow us to do that we can’t already do. More importantly, what can we do to change our world so that we don’t need to consume and junk a PC every couple years? This guide provides suggestions for what you can do to minimize the social and environmental costs of using computing technology and how you can help reform the computer industry so it does not burden the world with such costs.

Read the rest: PDF, ODT

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