Gadget, gadget, do you have a pile of old gadgets?
We all have our preferences when it comes to buying and using gadgets. The way we purchase, care for, use, and dispose of our gadgets can vary widely. But when it comes to gadget ownership, it seems as though a few distinct personality types shine through. Awhile ago we made up two personalities, the Gadget Minimalist and the Gadget Gottahavist, as we took a look at energy savings. But now, we’re prying the lid to the can of worms open just a little farther and taking a more detailed look at the styles of electronics consumers. So it’s gut check time — which personality type are you, and how green can you get?
The Proud Hoarder
Description: This gadget owner has one of everything ever made for the past couple decades. The reason for hoarding could be varied; for instance there’s the love-a-project hoarder. They don’t get rid of anything but instead know for a fact that someone, at some time in the future, will need that spare part for some project. All electronics come in handy at some point and they are happily there, bag-o-gadgets in hand, to help. Or there’s the Gottahavist who just won’t get rid of anything because they firmly believe it’s all just too cool — these are the types that have Nintendo 64s sitting alongside a new Kinect. And they probably play with both.
The Green Cons:There’s a limit to what a person can responsibly consume, and bringing new gadgets into the home without a really good reason is just not sustainable.
The Green Pros: The best part about a Proud Gadget Hoarder is also their fault — they don’t throw anything out. It might not be green to collect gadgets just out of sheer addiction, but when you have a serious collection of electronics that can be used to repair other items, hack into new devices that have a useful purpose, or that you simply still use because you love them, then, well, it’s better than using something for a year then sending it off to landfill or recycling.
Pairs Well With: Oh!Shiny-ist or It’s-Not-Me-It’s-You-ist
The In-Denial Hoarder
Description: This is probably the most common personality type. The In-Denial Hoarder swears they don’t crave gadgets or new devices, probably doesn’t buy them that often, and probably only has a handful they use on a regular basis. But look into drawers and closets and the truth pours out in a tangle of charger units and adapter cords. Decade-old laptops they have upgraded from but haven’t gotten around to selling or recycling lay hidden on a shelf, the last three cell phones they every owned stuffed in the back of a nightstand drawer because, well, maybe someone will want them or maybe they should have a back up just in case. And when they start to count the gadgets they really use (the TV, and all the black boxes that go with it, the various digital cameras they use for different purposes, and so on) they realize with a shock that yes…they too are a gadget hoarder.
The Green Cons: The In-Denial Hoarder doesn’t realize the impact they have on the environment because they probably don’t realize their purchase and use habits, or if they do, they don’t think it’s that bad.
The Green Pros: There is a lot of room for improvement for the In-Denial Hoarder and that’s great news for the planet since it’s the most common personality type. The most important thing this personality type can do is stop, take stock of what they use, take stock of what they own, and start to get organized. Admitting a problem is the first step toward recovery…
Pairs Well With: The Perfectionist or The Meh-ist
Description: This is someone who puts serious thought into the devices they decide to own. It’s not about the latest and greatest, or about the most expensive or difficult to find. This is about finding the exact right thing for what they need. A Perfectionist will research for weeks to find exactly what they want, be it a laptop, a camera, a cell phone — and once they find what they’re looking for, they’ll research for weeks again to get the best deal. The Perfectionist is someone who puts a whole lot of effort into getting only the best, and what’s better is that once they have it, they keep it in mint condition. Who wouldn’t, after putting that much effort into finding something? The Perfectionist personality revolves around the hunt, and pride of ownership.
The Green Cons: The environmental impact of the device, such as embodied energy, materials selection or other factors, is probably not the most important factor to a Perfectionist when they’re looking for an item.
The Green Pros: The Perfectionist buys for quality, cares for a device so it lasts far longer than otherwise might, and is so specific about what they purchase that they just don’t buy things very often. That means their overall gadget footprint stays relatively small.
Pairs Well With: The Quiet Recycler or The In-Denial Hoarder
Description: This is the ultimate upgrader, the person who wants the latest version of a device before the sheen from the last one has dulled. If you know a handful of Apple fanboys, you probably know at least one Oh!Shiny!-ist who has every single iteration of the iPhone, was surfing Hulu on their iPad while standing in line for the iPad 2… and so on. The Oh!Shiny!-ist upgrades their cell phone every single time their contract allows, or sooner if there’s a new model they think is better than what they have, and their kitchen is likely full of cool little devices and doodads that specialize in doing just one thing. The Oh!Shiny!-ist loves anything with neat features or a fancy form factor, and is probably as much obsessed with the design of an object as with what the object can do. If it’s new, and pretty, it’s in their shopping cart. However, there are Oh!-Shiny!-ists that specialize in just wanting the latest of a certain type of gadget — they might be equally as aware of their impact on the environment as anyone else, and work hard to properly dispose of or give away their older items.
The Green Cons: The Oh!Shiny!-ist is a consumer, and might not have any justification for buying something new. They don’t prefer to stick with Last Year’s Model, and that means they’re just the type of person consumer electronics manufacturers love to market to. Planned obsolescence is a big green failure in the gadget industry, but as long as there are Oh!Shiny!-ists around, the issue will probably continue.
The Green Pros: The best part about this personality type is the potential for keeping usable devices in the consumer stream and ensuring those who aren’t so in to the very latest thing can buy used instead of new. It’s the Oh!Shiny!-ists that have helpedbuy-back companies like Gazelle stake a claim in the retail space.
Pairs Well With: The Proud Hoarder or It’s-Not-Me-It’s-Youist
Description: This personality type is common among the older generations or those less comfortable with new technology. It’s the person who always thinks the problems they’re having with a device is the fault of the device and not themselves. For instance, it’s the amateur photographer who is certain the crummy photos they’re taking is the fault of their camera and if they just had a better model, their photos would be National Geographic-worthy. Or it’s the laptop owner who can’t figure out why the Internet is slow so they figure it must be because their laptop is two years old and they need to buy a new one with all the bells and whistles. It’s always an issue with the device, since the device is supposed to be automagical, and not anything to do with their use of it.
The Green Cons: Such a gadget owner as this is not the type to repair something that might be broken or simply not working at its best, nor are they the type to learn new skills to make a device perform better. These are two skills every green gadget owner needs.
The Green Pros: Since they’re looking for better devices, but are hunting with buckshot, the best market for them is buy-back companies where they can get used electronics that are fairly new. They’re a great target audience for companies like Gazelle, TechForward or NextWorth.
Pairs Well With: Oh!Shiny-ist or The Proud Hoarder… possibly even the In-Denial Hoarder
Description: The Meh-ist accepts gadgets as part of life but doesn’t make a big deal over them. They might have one or two devices they like, but the devices are viewed more as a necessity or something utilitarian, than something to go gaga over. The Meh-ist likely has a 4-year-old cell phone, a 5-year-old laptop or computer, and has yet to figure out if an e-reader is something that even remotely interests them. They typically will get a device repaired before considering replacing it, since that feels like the easier, more comfortable route than dealing with the dearth of devices they have to analyze before making a decision. They view the people that camp out in line in front of Apple stores the morning of new releases with the same skepticism and dispassionate fascination they do with fully costumed Trekkies. In all, the take-it-or-leave-it attitude is refreshing and even endearing.
The Green Cons:Few, if any cons, here. Maybe the only con would be that they don’t necessarily keep tabs on the energy consumption or other green credentials of their existing gadgets, nor what they purchase when they have to.
The Green Pros:The Meh-ist might be the greenest of all gadget owners, alongside the Perfectionist. With little interest in buying anything brand new or fancy, their consumption is kept at a minimum. They can probably be easily convinced to buy used and to recycle old gear.
Pairs Well With: Anyone, thought there might be some tension with the Proud Hoarder.
So, which gadget personality are you? Do you fall somewhere in between a couple of these types? Or do you consider yourself a different type altogether? The most important question to ask is: What influence does my gadget personality type have on my ability to be eco-friendly with my electronics, and where might I improve?