It’s tough to dis the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. After all, they’ve “gone green !”
I’ve been doing some “greener electronics” research over the past couple of weeks. The client is looking for leads in the way of eco-laptops, eco-LCD-televisions, eco-printers, etc. So I’ve been poring over EnergyStar 3.0 spreadsheets, digging into Greenpeace investigations , and doing a lot of surfing and searching and calling. Conclusion: There is a ton of useless crap out there, and a few great paradigm-shifting ideas out there going nowhere, like GreenPlug — which appears to be semi-stalled because laptop and mobile makers just make too much money off their crappy proprietary AC adaptors. And a lot of greenwash.
Enter CES, which just wrapped up in Sin City. I went to one of these shows a few years back, and it was absolute madness and chaos and light and sound and noise. It was a swirling crush of traffic, energy, and raw resources. I’ve been to a lot of trade shows over the years, and this one was by far the most exhausting and overwhelming of the bunch. But this year, it was greener than ever ! Or so they hoped. Treehugger reports that the offerings at the show’s “Sustainable Planet Zone” were razor-thin . A couple of solar backpacks. A few other gizmos. A handful of tiny exhibitors. In other words, fuck-all.
There were a few hints of green to come. A laptop with the casing made of corn-based plastic. And Sony is evidently promising a TV that will shut itself off when nobody is watching it. I predict the latter innovation will prove a major eco-fail: How many times have you been to the bathroom and left the set running within earshot so you can still listen to the program even though you can’t see it? Sony’s new innovation will power it down off as soon as you exit the couch. People will disable it in droves.
By the way, the mobile-device makers have next-to-nothing to offer those looking for a more responsible handset. Hello? What year is it again? Can we please get our shit together, RIM, Moto, Nokia et al?
I’m torn here. A side of me recognizes that any effort to make a difference matters. But when confronted with the Las Vegas light and noise, the other side of me fears that the scale of change required is just so gigantically huge – so paradigm-thrashingly scary — that a few programs not printed, or a few signs done up with soy-based inks, or a forest freshly planted with baby trees, might not amount to a damn.
It’s the same old wild oscillation unspooling between my ears: Over here, Mr. Optimist says “Hey, at least they’re trying! They’re working to make a difference!” But over on the other shoulder sits another little imaginary character, Mr. Realist. And this guy tells me, in a very calm voice, that nothing is changing. The ground is getting bigger every second, and we’re just not gonna pull out of this dive in time. Discuss.